Going Beyond The Myths
POOL|POOL 107

Rithika Merchant’s thought-provoking and striking work is an exploration of the common thread that runs through different cultures and religions

Rithika Merchant

How were you drawn to art?

RM: I have been artistically inclined from a young age and my parents were always very supportive and encouraging of my need for artistic expression. Though my parents are doctors, they would take me to see art exhibitions in Mumbai and really try to educate me and expose me to art. I remember drawing and painting with my mother as a child and always being encouraged to express myself creatively. I always knew I wanted to be an artist. It is not really something I can explain in words, but there really is nothing else I want to do. I went on to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Parsons The New School For Design.

Your work clearly narrates the history, culture, traditions as well as mythology of different countries. How do you create an interpretable art form?

RM: I have always been very interested in the narratives, myths and received histories that are available to us. I am also interested in how these different fragments are ‘woven’ together to form a complete image. Most cultures use imagery to tell stories and represent ideas. I try to use these ancient means of storytelling in a more contemporary context.

The combination of having grown up in India, studied in the U.S.A., traveled extensively and finally settled in Europe is the reason for my interest in the links between cultures. I've been lucky enough to be able to explore different cultures and witness them. Europe and India have such a mixture of different traditions; this has helped me see parallel histories everywhere. The history of myth and traditions shows links between cultures that often isn't highlighted in classical history.

What took you to Barcelona?

RM: After spending three months at an artist residency in the remote, rural town of Mertola which is deep in the desert of the Alentejo region of Portugal, I moved to Lisbon to pursue a career as a visual artist. During my stay there, I met my (now) husband. After, a year in Lisbon we wanted a change - something similar but a little bigger. We had both loved Barcelona when we had visited before, so we decided to just move here, give it a year and see how things went. We fell completely in love with the city and the lifestyle and have been living here ever since. I divide my time between Barcelona and Mumbai.

Which media are you most inclined towards?

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