In-Sync with Chandrika Marla (Interview)

Chandrika Marla and Sergio Gomez at the opening of I Am American.
Chandrika Marla and Sergio Gomez at the opening of I Am American.

In this blog post Chicago-based artist and friend Chandrika Marla shares her work and talks about her upcoming solo exhibition at Re-invent Gallery in Lake Forest. The show opes on Friday July 31st. Chandrika is also part of the traveling exhibition I have curated called I AM American. Besides being a wonderful artist, she loves to participate in the local art community. You may run into her the next time you attend a Chicago art opening. Check it out and get In-Sync with Chandrika Marla.

SG: Where did you go to school and what degree did you receive?

CM: I grew up in New Delhi and got my degree in Fashion Design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology. After that I worked as a designer for many years, but I never thought I’d give that up and become an artist!

SG: What is your website?

CM: It is http://www.chandrikamarla.com

You Should Be Here, 2014, 24x24 in, acrylic and handmade Japanese paper on canvas
You Should Be Here, 2014, 24×24 in, acrylic and handmade Japanese paper on canvas

SG: What are you working on and what inspires you right now?

CM: For over a year I’ve been painting a series that I call ‘Fragmented.’ I compare fragments of the form to partial landscapes, and suggest that we are all incomplete in some way. When we look at these paintings, our mind automatically fills in the missing areas, as if we subconsciously know where the balance lies.

As for inspiration, I have recently renewed my fascination for indigo dyes. A friend of mine invited me to a workshop on indigo dyeing, and it brought back memories of visiting villages in India where fabric is printed with hand-made blocks. I’m going to let these thoughts and memories percolate, and then figure out a way to bring these fabrics into my work.

SG: What are the essentials you must have in your studio/creative space?

CM: A paint roller, an overused Escoda brush, and my favorite Bebel Gilberto cd.

You Can Stay, 2015, 30 x 30 in, acrylic and pigment on canvas
You Can Stay, 2015, 30 x 30 in, acrylic and pigment on canvas

SG: Do you find social media to be a distraction or an asset for you as an artist and how do you deal with it?

CM: It’s mostly an asset. Social media is a good way to share work with people all over the globe, absorb new ideas, find galleries and shows to consider, and build a community. But it can be very distracting. I tend to ignore most of the links and negative news that my network posts. There is too much information out there (that I don’t need!) and it’s easy to waste the time that I enjoy spending in the studio.

SG: What’s next for you?

CM: I have a solo show coming up soon at Re-invent Gallery in Lake Forest, called ‘Parts of Her Puzzle.’ I’ll be showing the ‘Fragmented’ series, and also paintings that depict apparitions of women and clothing.

I’m also excited about a trip to New York later in the year. The Guggenheim is doing a retrospective on Alberto Burri and I don’t want to miss that!

Re-invent card

SG: What excites or disappoints you about your local art scene?

CM: Chicago is a terrific city to be an artist in. The art community is very friendly and if you participate, it includes you unhesitatingly. It is so helpful to have the support and advice of people you like and respect. My upcoming solo show came together because an artist introduced me to the gallery.

There are a lot of commercial galleries and artist studios to visit in Chicago, and a membership to the Art Institute is a must. In the past few years, the Art Institute has been putting up exhibitions of contemporary art from India and that’s a bonus for me. I can’t think of anything disappointing about the art scene here.

SG: In your opinion, what will the art world look like in the future?

CM: I have no idea where the art world is heading but I do think that change is good.

SG: Is there a book, a movie or a place that you have been inspired by?

CM: That would have to be a place – the main terrace at Park Güell in Barcelona. The ceramic work, the undulating serpentine bench, and the myriad colors were like a magical experience for me. I was there last year and still find myself daydreaming about it and sneaking a reference to it into my work.

SG: One sentence advice for an art student…

CM: Make distinctive work and own it.

The undulating bench at Park Guell
The undulating bench at Park Guell
Unstoppable, 2013, 24 x 24 in, acrylic and paper on canvas
Unstoppable, 2013, 24 x 24 in, acrylic and paper on canvas
One of These Mornings, 2015, 38 x 30 in, acrylic on canvas
One of These Mornings, 2015, 38 x 30 in, acrylic on canvas

~THE END~

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