Mario d’Souza
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Home away from home Delhi ! 2020

Embodying the concept of “Home away from home” that has been running through his practice for the last decade, artist Mario d’Souza transforms a room in a Delhi apartment into a site specific installation. The artwork embeds here his idea of “home” into a domestic space for the first time. From a bamboo structure—that can be understood both as an exoskeleton and an endoskeleton of a room—hang shimmering velvets in bright hues and matte fabric panels in more subdued tones. Appearing through these curtains are sanguine drawings of plants and hands on colored paper, and on the floor, a multitude of objects rest, spreading themselves in a manner at times whimsical, at times contained : more drawings, papier maché birds, bark-made flowers, wood sticks, a bowl, a bolster, terracotta fruits replicas, vibrant green leaves, folded and unfolded bright pieces of silk and brocade… a solemn ebullience. D’Souza attained this spatial equilibrium through an intense and precise intuitive ordering day after day : the process that lead to these poetic appositions possibly being the artwork itself. The completed installation evokes an archipelago, a landscape, but also an Indian bazaar where each object tells a story : of its maker, his gestures and of its user.

D’Souza’s negotiation of two cultures—Indian and French (he has been living in France for the past 18 years) quietly emerges through his practice : here for instance in how the drapery evokes Indian miniatures or palaces as well as tapestries hanging in French castles. His two year long residency at Mobilier National in Paris working among dedicated craftsmen enriched his work where there is no distinction between decorative arts, crafts and fine art. The artist forcefully embraces the juxtaposition of histories and geographies embedded in each of the objects and fabrics displayed—for instance in the velvet or brocade. He also embraces the precious and the mundane —the Auroville marble paper or the machine made A4—the natural and the artificial, the masculine and the feminine…firmly believing in the AND.

The biographical often meets the decorative in this installation that D’Souza refers to as a three dimensional miniature painting. Antique painted terracotta fruits used for rituals lay on folded fabric, bringing the idea of nature indoors while also referring to the very first sculptures the artist came across as a child during Dussehra in his hometown of Bangalore. However, the broader idea of ritual exceeds this specific reference as the entire room feels like an offering to oneself and to the viewer. Gravity, materialized by the velvet strips, is not only a matter of physics here, it is also a feeling. This profusion of tactile forms and colors invites the viewer to reflect on the psychological and imaginative dimensions of the home-home as a place, home as a portrait.