Written by Bea Taylor
Photographed by Kallan MacLeod
With deft hands and a considered aesthetic, Areez Katki creates textile work on ethically sourced cloth.
Areez Katki paints with thread. From afar, the pieces look delicately drawn but, up close, his fine and intricate needlework is evident. You can see his work at his first solo exhibition opening next Tuesday 7 July, 6pm, at Tim Melville Gallery; ‘Notes & Methods’.
It comprises of seven new embroidered hand-loomed khādī cloth panels alongside a selection of works from 2019, as an introduction to his poetic, contextually rich and technically detailed practice.
Katki describes his work and designs on cloth as “residual effects of my investigation, documentation [and] filtered retention of memory from my ancestral home in Bombay, Mumbai.”
His work is a continual conceptualisation and mining of the ideologies and spiritual ephemera that have recurred through his Zoroastrian upbringing. Zoroastrianism (or Mazdayasna) is one of the world’s oldest continuously practised religions. It’s an inherently patriarchal faith and Katki says he realised, early on, that he objected to their traditional values — it makes his work with textiles and needlework (as traditionally perceived more of a feminine endeavour) even more fascinating.
‘Notes & Methods’ explores the visual material and language of three women; firstly the stenographic journals of 1976-1977 belonging to his mother, Yasmin Lakdawalla. Secondly, a glossary of correlations between early abstraction and matters of spiritualism in the ‘Blue Notebook’ by Hilma af Klint. And finally, the qualitative definitions of colour, form and outline from ‘Thought-Forms’ by the early 20th-century political activist, Annie Besant.
Katki has explored the thoughts and messages in these three works and women behind them, to help him build his new suite of work. He hopes to “quell the domestic servitude of cloth… and transfigure the homely napkin, handkerchief or upholstery fragment into a taut tableau”.