Namita Paul - The Blue Sari: Nanka
30x40", Oil on Canvas, 2021
About this body of work:
Namita Paul: The Blue Sari
The blue sari has a commanding presence in my studio. Draped on a mannequin, it is traditional, opulent and striking; as a background of a still life, it rests in its majesty. And occasionally, it is the still life—transforming into a bodily landscape as light dances across its sensual and structural folds and creases.
It feels alien. It feels native. It speaks. It taunts. It threatens. It consoles. Never the same, it asks, who are you? Are you worthy?
No wonder, it’s the garb of goddesses.
I often stare at it in wonder.
Is it blue? Is it green?
Aquamarine? Maya Azul?
Peacock blue. Krishna’s blue. Tiffany blue.
Balearic Sea. California sky. Swimming pools.
Hand dyed and handwoven by descendants of Sage Markanda, the weaver of the Gods,
On a loom almost bigger than its house
A symbol of certainty amidst swirling change,
The sari stands witness.
Hand woven by artisans in Southern India, the Kanjeevaram or Kanchipuram saree is a centuries old traditional attire. These sarees are often woven in weavers’ homes, where large looms occupy a central place taking up a significant part of the house. In much the same manner, the saree graces my home with its presence, connecting me to artisans and histories across continents and time. Someday, it will connect my daughter to this history, story, and thread. This blue sari, gifted to me as a mother-to-be, is at the center of my current series. Using oil paints, I investigate and learn its rich array of colors as the light passes through it during the course of the day. In doing so, I explore the ineffable through the lens of intimacy, family, and womanhood. Although I have several sarees, each unique in its own way, I keep returning to this one. I suppose you could say the blue sari has chosen me.