Since the beginning of time, art has taken various shades. To some, it should look like things around us, while others use art to see with the mind what one cannot see physically with eyes.
Evidently for renowned Delhi-based architect and artist Rohit Raj Mehndiratta, art is an exploration into unknown areas which allow him to express himself with unfettered freedom.
The abstract artist looks beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite, though others may see these as weird shapes smeared together.
Expectedly, his first solo art exhibition in the capital is titled “(Un) Fettered”.
It opens at the Alliance Française de Delhi on the evening of 26 August and will then open to the public from 27 to 30 August from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm.
In the words of Rohit Raj: “I am trying to capture the inner real – it has no spatial limit or concept of time. It is constantly shifting from moment to moment that at the same time urges the consciousness to find stability in the outside, in the ‘other’ space.
I am playing with this dichotomy in my art: marking moments and their spiritual intensity.”
(Un) Fettered represents the artist’s desire to give form to these inner-landscapes, their co-existence and conflict with the external world and to critique the idea of the timelessness of one’s inner reality.
Raj plays with the concept of space inside oneself, its constant state of motion as it moves, moulds, fuses and contorts. He seeks to “(un) fetter” this space by representing moments of time.
By doing this, he brings the spiritual and emotional, both conflating together, into the artistic realm, to be experienced by the viewer, in their moment of time.
Thus, the artist urges consciousness to find stability in the outside – or the ‘other’ space through the inner realm. By playing with this dichotomy, through various artistic means, he captures the spatial intensity of moments – otherwise confined to the inner realm.
The mediums chosen vary from pen-ink, photomontages to acrylic on canvas. The process involves emotive moments that translate into intense sketching or pen and ink work. His work also revolves around photographing aspects of the physical realm that evokes the inside.
Rohit Raj Mehndiratta graduated from the School of Architecture CEPT, Ahmedabad and pursued a postgraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he received the ANN M BEHA Award in 2001 and Merit Recognition Awards in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
He has also received the J N TATA Endowment Scholarship 2000, American Alumni Award 2000, and Piroj Shah Godrej Scholarship 2000.
His professional work experience includes an initial training in India from Arcop Associates and Sachdev Eggleston Associates in Delhi and BV Doshi in Ahmedabad.
His international exposure started with CA Ventin Associates, Toronto, Canada and Frei Otto’s Institute for Light Weight Structure in Stuttgart, Germany. He went on to work for five years in New York City with Davis Brody Bond (DBB) and Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects (EKLA).
In DBB he worked on some very prestigious projects like the World Trade Center Memorial, New York, and Nicolas Grimshaw’s Experimental Media and Performance Arts Center in RPI, Troy, NY State.
At Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architects (EKLA), he was involved with an interpretive landscape project at the site of the first free African American quarters in Weeksville, Brooklyn, NY which won the 2006 Arts Commission Award for Excellence in Design, and the Harlem Stage Gate House project which won the 2008 Lucy G Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Since 2007, he manages an architectural practice with Vandini Mehta in New Delhi, called Studio VanRO. He is currently a visiting faculty at the Sushant School of Architecture.
His academic and research interests in the domain of visual urban representations and politics of urban development have led to a photographic exhibition called ‘Placed Settings’ in New York, where he explored the idea of identity and the city through photography paper presentations in a number of international conferences and published paper in Sarai Reader 09. He recently co-edited the monograph titled “The Structure: Works of Mahendra Raj” published by Park Books, Zurich.
He has been a part of expert panel committees on Public Arts initiatives at the Delhi Urban Art Commission and UTTIPEC’s MRTS Corridor Development sub group formed by the Ministry of Urban Development, Delhi Division.