Mario d’Souza
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Home away from home - Auroville

Centre d’Art Auroville, Inde

For over two decades, creating a ‘home away from home’ has been my mantra and daily practice. Being Indian-French and someone who melts two very distinct cultural identities, I am acutely aware of interpersonal and societal separations that arise due to differences in culture. With this background, creating a ‘home away from home’ wherever I travel has become an all-embracing allegory for transforming divergence into convergence, be it at the level of speech, art, communication, self-development, community, rituals, or conversations with people across the globe.

As an artist who fosters space for artisans by deliberately showcasing hand-made products, I focus on the biodynamism of nature and life and use art and as well as my hybrid background as a message and pathway to deliver and awaken awareness of thought, spiritual principles, multiculturalism, migration, identity, and self-exploration. As I interact with local artisans, collect discarded objects, and dive into every day life, I create art through community engagement. I focus on comfort, both of myself and in with my surroundings. In order to cultivate this inner and outer dialogue, I accompany my concepts by offering artist talks and interactions through workshops in galleries, prisons, schools, hospitals and museums. This way, my message becomes relatable and alive for my audience.

There are several elements and mediums that I use to represent the core of my beliefs, and which I bring as common thread to all my art. Through the prism of art, these mediums have become the metaphors of my message. One of these is hands : they represent the screen through which I see life. Hands and their function in someone’s life reflects their psychology and inner attitude. Whether we see hands that work, dig and plant in the Earth, hands in rituals, or hands in movement ; the hands bring the inner essence to work. They are the fabric of human labour.

Another medium and physical element of my work that holds a strong metaphor is a chair. In its it represents a voting right, a voice, comfort, finding space, and power. As such, it captures a wide range of meaning ; for example someone can offer me a chair, or I can take a chair. A king sits higher than his subjects- his chair is a throne. In other cultures, people sit on the floor and not on chairs. Each scenario is different in its dynamic and context within which it takes place.

The recurring element that I find myself exploring with oftentimes is color as well as texture. I find that these two elements add identity. I draw on color paper and I seek color in my life, both physically and metaphorically. Growing up, I was taught to cherish color. My family treasures a collection of sarees that have been passed down through generations, each one more beautiful, vibrant, and colorful than the next. Furthermore, the form of a cloth can be in various states ; it can be folded and thereby occupy less space, or it can be widely spread out.

Observing how these elements embedded in their cultural symbolism are routinely used and expressed by the people I interact with, has guided me and become the substance of inspiration for my philosophy and in the creation of my artwork. At the source, becoming enveloped in culture and a part of people’s experience is what I seek to share and portray in my art and is also what depicts the core of my swaddharma : ‘home away from home’.