As part of The Ekavalli Foundation’s commitment to nurture and promote talent, it commissioned Painted From Memory, a photographic collective by India-based photographer and filmmaker Uma Damle. This series of theatre portraits and still life images reflect the artist’s aesthetic, with the kanjivaram drape as the focal point of the narrative. In the chiaroscuro technique, used by Renaissance painters like Caravaggio, familiar objects seem to emerge out of the darkness of the past, into beautifully muted, memory faded colour. The line between photograph and painting is blurred by the use of lighting and the warmth of the colours.
Celebrating the ideation of memory and the timelessness of beauty, these images find contemporary resonance, while evoking a sense of classicism, referencing European realism, made popular by artists such as Raja Ravi Varma.
Together, the photographs become a memory board, a conflux of past, present and future, bringing together diverse elements that form the essence of the kanjivaram. The sari is seen here as a handed down keeper of memories, from weaver to wearer and mother to daughter; the warp and weft that are bound together with strength, grace and beauty on the loom, softened and made rich with recall.