Chandan Dubey, a photographer and restoration artist from Mumbai can give new life to objects that are long beyond their lifespan. In a world where being minimalistic is a trend, her philosophy is to be mindful of the generation of trash. She tries to explain that being minimalistic is a decision to be made before buying any item as opposed to discarding it later only for it to be a part of a landfill.
The self-proclaimed hoarder collects such artifacts while traveling from place to place and the nostalgic feeling that comes with these objects becomes the spark of her creativity. She restores the artifact to its capacity and then embellishes it employing various artistic media such as painting, decoupage, photo transfer, fabric art, etc. while incorporating her deep knowledge of Indian art and heritage. The whole process of up-cycling is aimed towards giving it a new life by repurposing the artifact.
Here is a list of a few such iconic products by Chandan Dubey.
1. Burmese actor’s chest
This elegant piece of art was a personal heirloom for Dubey- which as the name suggests was previously owned by a Burmese actress. The utility of this case was to hold make-up, accessories, and jewelry. She has retained the history of the artifact by photo printing traditional jewelry and clothing items along with the photo of the actress herself. The illustration on the top of the chest is accompanied by ancient scripture and the delicate detailing. The rustic look is achieved with the help of brick red paint and the patterns are highlighted in white color. The vernacular tone is retained to the chest with the brass hardware.
2. Repurposed old door
The majestic teak wood door illustrates Hindu mythical characters along with the prominence of the cow in it. The mullions and rails are painted in vibrant and contrasting colors along with ancient scripture. The intricate art on the panels along with the brass ornaments is what makes it an engaging piece of wall art.
3. Heirloom trunk
Chandan Dubey’s signature tasteful combinations of vibrant colors in bold paintwork on this box comprise motifs influenced by Jaipur art. The effect of the motifs and the painting of the traditionally dressed royal women layered with vintage jewelry and clothing encompasses the true narrative of grace and grandeur.
4. Circular textile collage frames
These multimedia colleges in the ring frame consisting of assorted textiles, textured fabric, vintage photograph, lace etc.is one of her original pieces. The wooden ring is accentuated with black and white geometric patterns. A dash of color in the recycled cloth ornamentation, feathers, and traditional silver jewelry adds a certain richness to its aesthetic. The sparse addition of cigarette burns and the scripture makes this artistic piece very visually stimulating.
5. Vintage side tables
This 16 x 16-inch piece of wood furniture can be simply described as eye-catching due to its rustic nature which is further accentuated with the green contrasting the black base. The traditional jewelry graphics are sparsely printed over the minimalistic motifs on a black background. The tabletop is highlighted by a varying contemporary pattern meandering along its edges.
6. Restored Prabhavalis
These intricate metallic prabhavalis inspired by various types of temples from all over India are backed with beautiful fabrics and framed with complementing materials. These prabhavalis could be stand-alone pieces of wall art as an ode to the traditional metal carvings or as a backdrop to some item to be highlighted.
7. Teak wood platter
The platter much like the artist’s other projects has a distinct aesthetic. The subtle usage of decoupage using a newspaper on the concave surface draws the eye to its center, which although empty is perfectly framed by a ring of cows. The cow is heavily featured in Dubey’s art due to her admiration of the peaceful yet majestic creature and its depiction in Rajasthani wall art. The black and white chequered patterns visible on the handles and the outer surface is inspired by Pichwai art.
8. Restored window wall hanging
This faux window wall hanging installation is a dilapidated old window acquired from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. The panels on the door are painted with vibrant colors and illustrations based on the ‘Nathdwara’ miniatures.
The arch above the frame is ornamented with multi-color stained authentic Galeecha glass. The color scheme reflects the traditional Rajasthani art.
The Window panels and also the wooden board inside it have paintings of Lord Krishna.
9. Jewelry printed canvas mat
The canvas mats quite similar to the side table has a dark background with contrasting motifs. The collage effect is generated in the digital art by layering various graphics of jewelry, flowers, script, portraits, etc. The texture of the canvas matt adds to the aesthetic of the piece.
10. Dowry Chest
This trunk is one of the highlights of Chandan’s eclectic collection of artworks. The large dowry chest was originally acquired from Gujarat. The motifs are based on the tantric murals from Madurai. The repetitive appearance of lotuses and the bluebirds are largely influenced by the art from southern India. The culmination of the vibrant colors and the nod to the ancient arts of India elevates the artifact further. The expression in this piece makes it stand out from all of her other works.