When Clothing is the Canvas

Wearable art is an emerging niche market and Nandita Richie is one of its pioneers


September 29, 2018

/ By / New Delhi

India & You

July-August 2018


Individualistic and creative, wearable art does not follow any particular aesthetic criteria and stands out as a creative expression of individual artists. Nandita Richie is one such visual artist bringing out her art on wearables, thus introducing something new to both the fashion and creative markets.

Fully blossomed lotus flowers float on a lake symbolising purity, beauty and everything that is good. Their petals are painted in different hues of pink, purple and red using the impasto technique. The word ‘impasto’ owes its origin to the Italian language, where it means ‘paste’. It is a technique used while painting, where paint is laid on an area of the surface in very thick layers. When dry, impasto provides texture; the paint appears to be coming out of the canvas.

“Most of my recent work comprises a series of florals and waterscapes on canvas that are all inspired by my grandfather’s garden where I would spend a lot of time when I was young. Bougainvillea and bright yellow amaltas (Cassia Fistula), sunflowers and lilies, blooming during the summer in India take me back to the memories of relaxed summer vacations that I spent with my grandfather in his garden in Jaipur. I have an emotional connection with these plants, which I try to bring on my canvas. Art is an expression of one’s innermost feelings, much like flowers are an expression of nature’s colours,” Nandita Richie tells India & You.

“In Buddhism, the lotus symbolises strength and endurance and overcoming one’s weaknesses and struggles, it still shines despite being in muddy water. I feel connected and get continuously inspired by it and thus it is my favourite muse,” she explains.

An art graduate from Delhi, Richie specialises in this form of art and began her professional life as a designer in the advertising world. In a bid to enhance her designing skills, she went on to study graphic designing and multimedia.

Today, she has diversified her art into wearables and has started a signature line of ties, scarves and pocket squares. She will be starting her own line of sarees soon. “I believe art should not be limited to art galleries and only for those who can afford to buy original art. In my effort to reach out to a segment that would like to own some creations, I wanted to explore other options and mediums where I could take my creativity. Bringing out my line of designer silk scarves, ties and pocket squares seemed one of the best options. These products are limited edition prints of my canvas art and they are affordable. Art lovers who want to own a piece of art but cannot afford originals can buy art and also wear it in form of a fashion statement. The wearables will be soon available through my website. As of the moment, most of the sales are done through my contacts and social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook,” she says.

During early 2000s, the trend of art flowering into a product emerged as a new option for artists. Today, art finds an expression in an unconventional and intimate manner – through fabrics. Wearable art is any article of clothing or other wearable objects that aesthetically evolve from a painting to a product. Though not really a part of the genre of mainstream fashion, wearable art remains related to it. It gives another meaning to craftsmanship and interlinks art and fashion.

In the past decade, artists in India have diversified into creating clothing and accessories on a platform of wearable art that gives them the opportunity to express their creativity in multiple forms. Usually, these forms include garments, jewellery, bags and other personalised products.

Artists also use finished fabrics and other materials to create a unique expression of their vision. They also use dyes or virgin fabrics and materials to give their products a different appeal and unique look. Wearable art is expanding fast and artists are increasingly conscious of how to market their signature line products to optimise the sale of their products and their brands and minimise the costs for the customer. They are therefore, turning to local companies to translate their art into wearable products.

As for Richie, her greatest influences have been the impressionist, post-impressionist and expressionist art styles that can be easily identified in her works along with influences of modern and contemporary art. She loves experimenting with abstraction and mixed media but her signature remains impressionist.

Richie has been previously invited to participate in the group show Couleurs de l’Inde in Nice, France in 2010. The theme was ‘India’ and two of her works were selected along with artists from all over the world. “Being invited to participate in a group show in Nice, a beautiful port city, near the fashion capital of the world Milan, was a wonderful experience. For me it was a valuable opportunity to interact with artists not only from France but also from the US, the UK and other countries. More recently, my creations are selected for Art Asia 2018 organised by Asia Art Net committee and sponsored by the South Korean government, scheduled for the month of November in South Korea,” she informs.

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