Singapore based Madhvi Subrahmanian primarily is a clay-based artist who renders her experiences and expressions through clay and ceramic installations. Not willing to be bound to just one medium, she engages with various forms of interactive installation artworks. Her distinct approach towards art is that which fuses traditional eastern techniques such as kintsugi with her contemporary sensibilities.
1. Tell us why you chose clay and ceramics over so many other media as an artist.
I started my career as a studio potter training and learning about clay at the Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry started by Ray Meeker and Deborah Smith. Clay and ceramics is a medium which is very technical and it takes years of practice to understand the material, surface, and fire. It is seductive and keeps you in its fold. Although my primary medium is clay I would like to imagine my practice is more fluid and out of the box with what is generally associated with ceramics. I often incorporate and explore other mediums including some painting, printmaking, photography, and video in my practice.
2. Why installations as an artist? Do you practice other modes of art?
I respond to space and three-dimensional work is set in a space so whatever one does is eventually installation art? It’s a bit difficult for me to box my practice into different modes of art- I would rather be in the fluid space. In the current show, I would rather think of the work to be collaborative, interactive, and performative.
I am simply reflecting on my own life experience and immediate environment. In my current show Mapping Memory, I am questioning the urban space that I am part of and its relationship with my material (earth/nature).
4. What do you think about the art community in India with respect to installation art?
Again art today is hard to categorize given our times with new media- everyone is a writer, a photographer, an artist today. What was traditionally a painting often morphs into installation and into the three-dimensional space and vice versa. The art community in India is very vibrant and I feel fortunate to be part of it.
5. What, in your opinion, is integral to the work of an artist? What is integral to your principle of art?
To be true to your own voice.
6. Has there been any seminal experience that you feel has propelled you towards a certain artistic sensibility?
My artistic sensibility keeps changing and every experience adds to the development of it.
7. What got you interested in kintsugi? What are you trying to express by fusing traditional Eastern art techniques with your contemporary installations?
I live in Singapore and the Far East is very present in daily life. I have been fascinated with Kintsugi from the time I first learned about it decades ago as a student at Golden Bridge Pottery. The philosophical underpinning of the technique and beauty of it are what draw me to explore and incorporate it in my practice and in the current show.
8. What are your future plans?
To keep pushing my practice further.