A series of block colour monochrome works by artist Hormazd Narielwalla was unveiled at Southbank Centre in London on 14 July until 21 October 2016. The series titled Lost Gardens, a specially commissioned body of 12 artworks was installed on the upper level facing the iconic river front. Creating a contemplative promenade experience, the works were set to trigger reflections ranging from personal experiences of loss to the current political destruction of community and culture.
Lost Gardens describes a visual journey that takes for its starting point the artist’s memories of the rose garden in Pune, India, an idyllic spot he would visit with his mother to choose their own roses, and watch the gardener cut and trim them. The garden represented a place of solace, contemplation, and unity between humans and nature. It was then sold and the rose beds built over during the economic expansion. Taking the cue from these personal observations, the artworks on show invite the spectator onto a journey into an intricate maze of layers of meaning. For each of the 12 works multiple readings become possible, depending on the visitor’s own experiences and personal history.
In the artist’s collages, carefully crafted from tailoring patterns, geometrical shapes arise out of found historical material and create visual stories and socio-political commentary through subtle editing and arranging. To the political eye, in Narielwalla’s work an emotion of loss meets the human longing for structure, but encounters instead the brutal mechanism of market guided gentrification and urban destruction. The garden becomes a metaphor for an endangered refuge, a cultural shelter created through careful communal cultivation and at constant risk to political recklessness. Putting a multicultural approach and historical roots side by side at the heart of his practice, Lost Gardens becomes the artist’s reminder of the fragility of the precious garden of beauty that is human culture.