At the entrance of PHOTOINK Gallery in New Delhi is this wall installation by Mumbai-based multidisciplinary artist Sunil Padwal.
An illustrator by training and a former advertising professional, Padwal works with paintings, drawings, installations and photography. The untitled wall work, showing an out-of-use car’s image mounted in multiple frames, is reflective of the artist’s experimentation with varied mediums, where photography and the form of installation are engaged in a dialogue.
Padwal, who studied at Mumbai’s Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Arts, grew up in the southern part of the city and his artistic practice is heavily informed by city life, its chaos and the rapid changes in its landscape. “I grew up in the small lands of South Bombay. So for me, the grid of Bombay, the objects of Bombay, the small interesting parts of Bombay, which gradually are vanishing…so someway what I am trying to do is if I can capture those changing phase of Bombay and the childhood memories of my past…that process is like a therapy for me,” the artist said, while preparing for his exhibition at the third of edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which exhibited his drawings, photography and found objects.
The untitled installation at PHOTOINK also reflects his engagement with the ethos of Mumbai, with a defunct ambassador car suggesting nostalgia for a bygone era. The vintage quality of the installation is enhanced by the use of faded photo frames, which is an important part of the artist’s work. He uses discarded frames from Mumbai’s flea markets to develop his art, a practice he began while working on his paintings, with the support of his wife in designing the frames.
In his focus on the mundane, such as an unused car or the salvaged photo frames, Padwal’s wall work establishes a connection with daily objects that are otherwise taken for granted and, hence, easily ignored. The multi-sized photo frames add an asymmetry to the overall installation, invoking multiple meanings of memory and nostalgia, each embedded with an independent narrative.