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A Journey Towards Traditional History: Mukhosh
Mansi Dhiman Mandhwani

Art Konsult Gallery is situated at a place which is a hub for food joints, designers, hippy culture, contemporary art and artists! yes I am talking about Hauz Khas Village, it is a city within a city, there is always too much going on at the same time; one can experience contemporary, modern as well as antique.

Lately I visited Art Konsult after a long time and I was expecting an exhibition on contemporary art but it was surprising, the moment I stepped in I felt I was somewhere else, as though I was not in Hauz Khas Village. It was not a contemporary exhibition, yet it was modern.

A sneer here, a smirk there, a sparkle of victory over evil and a flash of gods and demons – Mukhosh, an exhibition that successfully captures these in it, a cultural history of India and around in the form of masks. The exhibition exhibits masks around the different parts of the Indian Subcontinent. Many legends and folklores are associated with the history of masks all around the world. A mask is a transformative experience, it allows us to be someone we’re not, for a moment, changing both how we see ourselves and how we behave outwardly as ostensibly. It’s a universal feeling shared across cultures throughout human history.

The oldest known uses of masks are ritualistic, albeit theatre and entertainment being no less consequential. While some masked ceremonies have died out over the years, others cultures have held onto their traditions.The iconography of a mask, all around the world, is a reflection of local tradition or scrounges of mythological as well as religious epic. In India most of them are based on epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Kathas, Puranas, etc.

The masks at the exhibition enormouslyvary in their appearance, materials and utility, some are ritualistic and some are performative, differing from the rough, uneven and the simple to the intricately carved and the painted, from the austere to the exorbitantly flamboyant and decorative, many are part of the costumes, significantly in rituals or performances for consummate characterization. Essentially the costume completes the mask with a brand new identity of the mask bearer. One of the most important and essential parts of the mask is how it has been carved or painted or embossed, which shows the phenomenal craftsmanship of the artisans. Craftsmanship is something that keeps our cultural history alive for ages.

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