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Book Review


The physical presence of this large sized hardcover gives a taste of the momentous contents within, before even beginning to read it. The stylish, minimal front and back covers featuring the sculpture work of Rini Dhumal against a black backdrop would visually be a welcome addition to any home library. This Technicolor biopic is a well orchestrated collection of Dhumal’s multidisciplinary range of works, visual and written, from various points in her extensive career.

‘Parallel Wings’ with its name referencing Dhumal’s winged feminine archetypes, has written pieces from three authors: Sushma K. Bahl, an independent art
but adviser writer and curator based in Delhi, Anil Dharker a noted columnist and writer based in Mumbai, and Rini Dhumal herself.

The book’s foreword is written by Anil Dharker.

“Some artists look like housewives, others look like bank clerks. This is not to denigrate home-makers of ledge keepers; it’s just to say that not all artists look like artists. Rini Dhumal does. She has the look of someone steeped in art”

He gives a concise introduction into the artist’s life and work, not only as a creator but the woman behind the works. He gives a nod to her childhood in postpartition Bengal referencing her 2002 textile work ‘Ancestral Tapestry’ as a window into the mind of Dhumal herself.

He touches on the variety of mediums she has explored and the depictions of the strong female archetype for which Dhumal is renowned. “Rini’s women may be of immense strength, firmly grounded in their outlook, but they are ready to fly when the time is right”

Following we have ‘Creative Constructs: The Aesthetics of Rini Dhumal’s Art’ by Sushma K Bahl, who gives a far more in depth history into the life and experiences of Rini Dhumal. We learn of her roots in 1950’s Bengal, in her loving yet traditional Hindu Bengali household which has left a lasting imprint on the artist’s persona. We are then taken through the journey from her schooling in Mumbai, to degree and masters in Baroda and finally to her government scholarship in Paris, after which she had a stint with renowned printmaker Krishna Reddy. We get a glimpse of the personal life of the artist when in 1977 she married her Baroda college mate and together, as many couples do, embarked on the struggle to build a life together, then dealing with the age old artists struggle of balancing her career at the prestigious M S University as a member of the Faculty of Fine Arts, and devoting time to her own practice. We are taken through the ‘Art Track’ of Rimi Dhumal’s work as Bahl outlines the themes and methods in the artist’s works. The tonal palettes of her paintings are described at length and choice to branch out into the earthy medium of clay and ceramic. In fact the artist has experimented with almost all accessible materials with outstanding results as we see in the vivid images which fill the pages of the book.

The author describes the artist’s development through myth, landscape and abstraction in words as captivating and Rimi Dhumal’s art work

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