For its first anniversary show, æquō takes a new series of drawings by the French illustrator Boris Brucher, invited to investigate two iconic Indian techniques: the rare and precious metalwork ofBidri, seen in exceptionalscale, and, in contrast, a collection of light, almost ephemeral, hand embroidered linen throws. Brucher has immersed himself in an imaginary landscape inspired by the Karnataka region in central India, which he depicts likean illustrated tale.
Four majestic sculptural volumes designed by creative director Florence Louisy, engraved with pure silver, stands like columns. When unfolded, the Pila panels reveal the specially commissioned drawings in all their glory. The free hand lines gleam from within the metal alloy oxidized in the mysterious earth of Bidar. They are scenes full of subtle storytelling: behind the bodies of Brucher’s signature wrestlers, there are references to the landscape andarchitecture of Bidar, as well as elements from the bidri process itself. Rivers and ruins can all beglimpsed in images charged with the same level of symbolism as Indian miniature paintings. The illustrations display Brucher’s research into the region and the craft; while the original works on paper make up part of the scenography, these are lines that were drawn to be hammered in silver. Commissioned and developed by æquō, the screens are exemplary both of the gallery’s collaborative process and ofits ambition to create masterpieces of contemporary craftsmanship.
The Pila screens are the work of mastercraftsman Mohammamed Abdul Rauf, whose Bidar-based workshop executed the historical silver inlay craft. Recently celebrated and credited with a revival of the technique, Rauf is considered to be one of only two mastercraftsmen in the art.
In the second gallery space, an installation of white-on-white linens is suspended mid-air. Here, Brucher’s drawings come alive in tight French knots, embroidered in Mumbai. Where the knot is required, the stitch is created by passing the yarn through the base material. The left thumb and index finger are then used to hold the thread firmly in place. The thread is held steady in the left hand and the needle is twisted around it two or three times before the twists are gently pulled back around the needle. The tip of the needle is then rotated 180 degrees and inserted at the back of the intended knot. Finally, the needle and thread are pulled through the fabric. The numbered edition embroideries are a reminder of æquō’s attitude towards democratic design.
Like the folds of the screens, the drapes of the fabric display Brucher’s work in parts. In this carefully considered set design, the textile works are sewn into ropes weighted with laterite bricks, the same stone used for the construction of Bidar Fort. The Karnataka connection is the poetry that ties one room to another in Brucher’s handmade show that fuses art, design and craftsmanship.
The embroidered fabrics subtly reveal each drawing from Boris Brucher’s series. His flowing lines embrace the linen surface on both sides. These pieces are throws, thoughtfully designed in the image of Brucher who appreciates the nonchalant yet precious side of these embroidered pieces. Letting their use run wild...