Left: The eight-feet tall fire element totem encapsulates Garuda, the divine sunbird and mount of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology; Right: Indigenous references play a pivotal role in Anu Malhotra’s installations

Photographs courtesy Anu Malhotra

Anu Malhotra draws inspiration from Indian tribes to create vibrant installations for her solo show-Flow Dreams

by Aneesha Bhadri Jul 08, 2019 In Anu Malhotra’s recent creations, wooden totems stand tall and proud, precariously balancing curios one atop the other. Owing to their kaleidoscopic colours, these mostly lifesized pieces—part of a neo-tribal collection for the artist’s next solo showcase under the Flow Dreams name—are nothing short of mesmerising. Malhotra is influenced by her travel across India, interactions with tribal societies and the art of creating contemporary fibreglass structures. She expresses her creativity and learnings from the tribes in the form of sculptural, hand-painted wooden installations that depict nature-inspired figurines, totems and masks. While the collection celebrates tribal wisdom and the significance of rituals, the rustic masks, in particular, feature surreal and stark expressions. Meanwhile, the figurines and totems evoke an animistic force associated with nature. The collection includes a total of three, eight-feet tall totems, each of which honours a specific element (earth, water and air) and contains symbols of the sun, moon, time, chakras and spiritual evolution. Take, for example, the fire element totem. It is symbolised by the mythical Garuda (the divine sunbird and Lord Vishnu’s mount in Hindu mythology) as well as the lion, representing power and protection in a contemporary language.

Photographs courtesy Anu Malhotra