London-based artist Hormazd Narielwalla’s latest show at The Foundry Gallery showcases his cubist collages with roots in classical tailoring
London-based artist Hormazd Narielwalla rose to prominence in the art and fashion worlds for his work with antique and contemporary tailoring patterns, after beginning his career at a Savile Row tailor called Dege & Skinner. Perhaps the artist’s most interesting work to date, Body Architecture ran at The Foundry Gallery in London from June 1 to 10. The exhibition brought together more than 40 large-scale collages inspired by vintage tailoring patterns a la Savile Row.
Narielwalla’s unique collages take as their starting point the classic brown paper of discarded Savile Row tailoring patterns and reinterpret the human form, building on the legacy of cubism. From there, they take on a magical beauty.
“I was researching military tailoring whilst doing my Masters in London. Savile Row was like Alice in Wonderland when I walked down the road — there were formal looking storefronts with typically English names and stylish dressed men walking in a hurry getting on with their business lives,” Narielwalla told Selections. “Savile Row is immensely fascinating because of its heritage and the mere delight that each man has his blue print documented in the form of patterns. It’s like a doctor-patient relationship, where all secrets are maintained between tailor and customer.”
Body Architecture was Narielwalla’s second U.K. solo exhibition, and was presented by Saatchi Art. “He has been making new works inspired by architecture and in particular the buildings of Le Corbusier,” said Rebecca Wilson, chief curator of SaatchiArt.com. “These works, in addition to being influenced by Corbusier’s work in India, also draw on the culture and heritage of India, where Hormazd was born and spent his formative years. We wanted to show this new body of work together and it was this that determined the selection of works for the exhibition. If you are interested in Matisse and bold modernist works that explore colour, shape and form, then he is a very exciting part of that trajectory in contemporary art.”
Narielwalla’s own focus is on craftsmanship. “I think collage is an interesting medium, especially because there is a high element of craft and composition involved,” he said. “I look at contemporary work and feel a sort of loss as there is little importance given to process and craft. I feel my work and collage particularly allows me to communicate my ideas and have theoretical backing, but still have a strong essence of beauty and craft.”
As for inspiration, the artist finds it everywhere and anywhere. “The patterns hanging on my wall,” he says, “people on the street, world magazines, images, politics, cultural references, my past life in India, fashion history, tailoring — even my garden.”
by Daniel Scheffler
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Urban Art Issue #37, on page 38.