Monday, June 26, 2017

Wandering Artist: In Conversation with Rehane

Poochi Venkat invited me to join him for the program curated by Avis Viswanathan at The Wandering Artist. I was not sure what to expect, which was great. All I was told was the place is an interesting spot for hosting workshops including programs that I was attending that evening. Avis Viswanathan also hosts a monthly program at Odessey called the Bliss Catchers. It features conversations with folks who have taken the road less travelled and have made it their own. These interactions in my opinion are very important to help us stay grounded, stick to our dreams, and plod on inspite of the pressure to be materialistically accomplished in life. 

Rehane's journey in the fashion world, one would consider is a privileged one. Her father was in the Indian Foreign Service and that enabled the family to become a global citizen since they travelled a lot. Rehane herself was born in Paris and educated in Rome, and now married and settled in Chennai. However, she did not have it easy either. Her parents divorced when Rehane was 15 and she made the decision to live with their father, which also included her youngest sibling Saba. It was a lonely period I gather to grow up without the love of your mother, but it was a conscious choice and she went through with it. At the most important juncture of her life, she received the news her mother had been murdered in the most tragic circumstances and this made international headlines. When she was asked about how she coped with the loss, Rehane matter-of-factly says that she never had any bonding with her mother after their separation. So while she felt sad, it did not emotionally wreck her. 

In the world of fashion, she had to make her mark. One of the most important takeaways for me in this conversation was her response to tailoring fashion to different regions. Chennai is considered conservative, Bombay and Delhi, probably more fashionable and so on. So how does she manage to make it work in Chennai! She makes an important point about being a global citizen. Since she has lived everywhere, making a move to Chennai was like any other city. It did not hinder her thinking nor did she think the city had limitations. Instead she worked with what she was offered and what she could find. In keeping fashion relevant to the times, her answer was bold and hard hitting. She said, "Your work should be relevant to you, not to the world. Everything has a market. Everything."

In my own journey as an artist, I am sometimes consumed by self-doubt about my work. Are oils more commercially accepted than watercolors? Is realism still relevant? I am not ready for abstracts. I love art. So it shall be. I continue on this journey of self-discovery as an artist, on my own terms, at my own pace.

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