Rithika Merchant (b. 1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons - The New School of Design, New York (2008). Since graduating, she has exhibited her work extensively, including a number of solo exhibitions in India, Spain, Germany, and the United States. Her most recent solo shows include Where the Water Takes us at TARQ, Mumbai (2017); Ancestral Home at Galeria Bien Cuadrado, Barcelona (2017); Intersections at Galeria Combustion Espontanea, Madrid (2016); Luna Tabulatorum at Stephen Romano Gallery, New York (2015); and Encyclopedia of the Strange at Tiny Griffon Gallery, Nuremberg (2014). Her recent group exhibitions include This Burning Land Belongs To You at the Swiss Cottage Gallery, London (presented by TARQ for Camden Kala, UK/ India Year of Culture 2017); Language of the Birds: Occult and Art at 80WSE Gallery, New York (2016); and a two-person show, Reliquaries: The Remembered Self at TARQ, Mumbai (2015). Her work has also been included in group shows at The New Gallery, Calgary (2017); Summerhall, Edinburgh (2015); and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York (2015). Merchant recently collaborated with Chloé, a French fashion house, to create a series of illustrations for the brand’s Spring-Summer 2018 collection. She currently divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona. (Photo courtesy indulgexpress.com.)
Rithika Merchant’s “Voyagers” is the cover image of Papercuts Vol. 20: Nomad. Given below is a statement she shared with the magazine along with the image.
My works are an exploration of epics and myths across geography. I create mosaics of myths that question received histories that are available to us throughout culture. Derived from an attempt at self discovery and aimed towards solving contemporary strife; created by what we may describe as a conflict of civilisations, which is negated by locating a mythical strain of unanimity.
I am keen to explore the common thread that runs through different cultures and religions. Similar myths, stories and ideas are shared by cultures all around the world. My paintings explore this concept while also featuring creatures and symbolism that are part of my personal visual vocabulary.
Also read: Papercuts magazine’s Associate Editor Torsa Ghosal’s note on the theme and cover image for Vol. 20: Nomad
Each piece can be seen as a totem that invites the viewer to stitch together their own narrative, drawing on collective memories and signifiers to generate meanings, I further explore how objects can be markers of identity and how these may be reworked in contemporary contexts as meanings and interpretations change.
Nature plays a pivotal role in my work and is emphasised by the use of organic shapes and non saturated colours. My paintings are made using a combination of watercolour and collage elements, drawing on 17th century botanical drawings and folk art, to create a body of work that is visually linked to our collective pasts.
“Voyagers” by Rithika Merchant. 2016. Ink and gouache on paper. 39 x 28 inches.