From gallery to outback: Gauri Torgalkar’s next canvas is Ayers Rock

By Maria Irene
Gauri Torgalkar // Pic supplied

As the final brushstrokes of applause settled over The Other Art Fair in Sydney, held between 12-15 October 2023, it was clear that the event had showcased some of the most remarkable talent in contemporary art. But even in a crowded field of artistic ingenuity, one artist managed to carve out a space uniquely her own. Gauri Torgalkar, an India-born artist now based in Sydney, stole the spotlight, leaving an indelible mark with her vibrant works. And if you think her latest collection, showcased at The Cutaway Barangaroo, was a visual feast, you’ll be intrigued to know her next stop: Ayers Rock, the monumental sandstone formation at the heart of Australia.

Born and raised in Mumbai, Torgalkar cut her artistic teeth amidst the colour and complexity of Indian life. But her story is far from parochial; her work has been shaped by an array of international experiences. A stint in Ohio exposed her to world-class art and intellectual stimulation, but it’s been Australia’s natural beauty that has ensnared her creative spirit since her move in 2012. Her art explores the thematic overlaps of her varied geographies, marrying Indian visual aesthetics with Australian subject matter—a mingling that she describes as a rewarding journey.

Her recent series, Strange Familiar, exemplified this cross-cultural confluence. The artworks are a sublime meshing of Indian rituals set against the Australian landscape. This duality reflects the complexity of immigrant experiences and offers viewers multiple lenses through which to interpret her work. Depending on one’s cultural background, the familiar can be strange and vice versa.

Gauri Torgalkar // Pic supplied

As captivating as her past works have been, it’s her upcoming journey to Ayers Rock that promises an intriguing next chapter in her artistic saga. She’s keen to draw inspiration from the changing hues of the iconic landmark, a spectrum she describes as “the real deal” in terms of colour.

Torgalkar’s anticipation for her Ayers Rock venture is palpable. The landscape’s vivid colours, especially at dawn and dusk, present an exciting new canvas. But she’s not just chasing shifting shades. This quest for Ayers Rock is also a pilgrimage to a space that holds deep cultural and historical significance to indigenous communities. And knowing Torgalkar’s knack for blending tradition with modernity, it’s likely that her next series will be more than just a visual chronicle of a famous Australian landmark; it will be a dialogue, a narrative, and perhaps even a respectful homage.

The importance of her art goes beyond its aesthetic appeal; it questions, it challenges, and it inspires conversations about identity. Just as she is fascinated by how identity morphs when adapting to new geographies, her art invites audiences to embark on a similar intellectual and emotional journey.

Gauri Torgalkar artwork // Pic supplied

Before Ayers Rock, she has already been engaging in these dialogues with her series Tracing Patterns & Chasing Silhouettes, an exploration of Sydney’s urban waterways and local flora, overlaid with Indian patterns like ikkat. Such works serve as a bridge that connect her Indian heritage and Australian surroundings, and invite those viewing her art to cross it as well.

As Torgalkar packs her bags for Ayers Rock, her canvases rolled, and her paintbrushes bundled, she’s not just taking a trip; she’s embarking on an exploration—of land, of colour, and of the self. It’s a journey we should all be eager to witness, if not through our own eyes, then through hers—mesmerising, multifaceted, and magnificently global.

As she prepares to capture the majestic shades of Ayers Rock, what remains certain is that whatever canvas she chooses next, her palette will carry the complex hues of her life’s rich tapestry—a tapestry that stretches from the busy streets of Mumbai to the serene landscapes of Australia. One can’t help but wait with bated breath for what she chooses to share next. And knowing Torgalkar, it’s sure to be nothing short of captivating.

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