It’s on a bright winter day that we visit Manisha Parekh’s spacious studio, overlooking lush green vistas. The conversation veers towards the Totem series, which forms part of her ongoing show, A River Inside, at the Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai. One work from the set, Totem 4, is also on display at the gallery’s booth at the ongoing India Art Fair, which can be visited till 2 February.

Created as a large-scale watercolour, Totem 4 is different from Parekh’s usual work, which is very intimate in scale. The artist remembers that when it was completed and placed vertically, it felt like it was gaping at you like a totem. “The process of creating it was very liberating—that sense of playing around freely on paper," she adds.

A sense of fluidity runs through her work. In her latest show, Parekh draws on the sensuous movement of water. This is palpable even in her wall-mounted metal sculptures, titled Following You. Shadows form an integral part of the works—they emerge from the objects and follow you around. In this visual play, one wonders where the metal ends and shadows begin.

The exhibition also carries forth her engagement with the idea of layering—both in terms of creation and ascribing meaning to the works. A stark example of this layering can be seen in The Sound Of Water series. Parekh begins by pouring glue on to a board. Once that hardens into globules and droplets, she places a paper on top and rubs it with graphite to get impressions.

Though people refer to her work as abstract, she disagrees: “While abstraction in art history stands on its own, in my work, there are associations and memories of a place, moment, interaction and impressions." For instance, music has a very strong association for her. Parekh subconsciously transfers emotions that a piece evokes to her work. “Interpretations can be open-ended," she adds.

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Compiled by Shubham Ladha

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