Meet the Artist: Hormazd Narielwalla

Curation is a powerful communication tool that allows brands, companies and people to express their identity and celebrate their values. We’re proud to collaborate with thousands of established and emerging artists to realise the curation aspirations of our clients, and following a recently completed project, we decided to speak to collage-based artist Hormazd Narielwalla about his recent commission for Acrylicize, how fashion informs his art practice and more.

Your journey as an artist starts with your education. How did everything begin?

I used to work as a fashion stylist and journalist back in India, and decided to move to London in the 2000s to study my Masters in Visual Fashion Communication at the University of Westminster. During the course I decided to explore the world of tailoring and met a tailor on Savile Row. In my first meeting I noticed paper bespoke tailoring patterns on the floor in the corner, separated from the archive. I learnt that they were waiting to be shredded as the customer had recently died. This left a profound effect on me and I begged him to give them to me. Now freed from their original purpose, I started viewing them as objects in their own right and I used them to create a book – ‘Dead Man’s Patterns’, which became my graduation show final project.  Following the show I was invited to pursue a PhD at the London College of Fashion, where I started researching into various forms of tailoring patterns and how they could be used as materials to depict the human body. 

Your practice, artworks inspired by sewing and tailoring patterns, is very unique. What are some of the early influences that affected your work?

Towards the end of my PhD, I started making work from French sewing patterns inserted in magazines. The body and its story may be no more, but memory and patterns live on. In these abstract works, the female form is shattered into precise overlapping facets, flattened not as multiple views of a subject, but as the object itself made from single pattern sheets. These compositions recall the Cubists, who strove to paint pictures that compressed all faces of an object simultaneously into one image. Similarly to the Cubists, tailors analyse bodies and produce drafted mathematical patterns that can be viewed as the entirety of the body. Tailoring patterns are artefacts in themselves, they present every facet of a garment, and inevitably the body along with it, on a single sheet of paper. These patterns have a seductive quality, not only when cut and detached, but also when left intact, which allowed me to explore the multiple aspects and angles of the body by filling in the planes. This and my “Dead Man’s Patterns” project, is where the idea of building a practice around the concept of making original works from tailoring patterns came from. 

Fashion is a great source of inspiration for you and you started your career as a fashion designer. What was hardest about transitioning from designer to artist, or did this flow quite naturally for you?

I never really had a full blown career in the fashion world. It was my intention to do so, but when people started responding to my work in a fine art context, the switch was quite natural. In fashion, the concept of symmetry in a general sense is important, certainly in the world of tailoring – the left side of the suit has to be precise and look like its right side. In art, very rarely does symmetry become the eternal factor when composing a picture. Artists want to portray life as it is, or how they imagine it, and life as we know is not symmetrical. Making art is now what I do, I use it to tell stories and it just comes naturally to me. 

We recently commissioned you to produce a set of artworks for residences in Canary Wharf. What was the creative process behind those works?

For my recent commission with Acrylicize, I created a set of 8 abstract works titled Dancing Blocks. These works focused on my research into the movement of dancers and the influence the medium of dance has had on 20th  century artists, such as Picasso, Picabia and Bacon.  I wanted to explore the state of constant flux we experience in any given moment, and acknowledge that to make sense of our constantly changing reality, we should respect that which is confined to history. These works trace, map and touch compositions for the body as imagined by the designers of their day, but choreograph new destinations through lyrical forms that dance across the surface of antiqued paper. They remind us that, in a world that can seem hostile and divided, our bodies and the ways they navigate this shifting landscape, remain shared and universal.  I read that you’re a fan of Frida Kahlo. Do you have a favourite artwork by her that inspired you? I generally love all her work. If I had to live with one and own it, I’d probably pick The Two Fridas painted in 1939. Kahlo still remains a great inspiration for me, and I was honoured when the V&A commissioned me to make portrait collages of the Mexican artist, which are now in its permanent collection of works on paper.

What else are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished a series titled Rock, Paper, Scissors, where I deconstructed an original book to record responses to journeys I made to St. Ives to visit the studio and garden of the artist Barbara Hepworth. Seen in sequence, the 80 tiny collaged book-pages (18 x 11cm) that constitute Rock, Paper, Scissors, reveal the play of my thoughts. Book pages inevitably imply narratives, and within their framework I have gathered the threads of different continents, timelines, languages and art forms. Working with the parameters defined by the original geometric diagrams, the overlaid collaged elements echo and pay homage to Hepworth’s signature sculptural forms.  The series takes its name from the children’s game that pits rock, paper and scissors against each other in a game of chance, where no one element can ultimately gain precedence. In this extended sequence of miniature art works, paper stands in for rock, just as an old suit pattern can represent a man.

Quick Fire Round Favourite cuisine?

A beautifully made Biryani. 

Last holiday destination? 

St Ives

A song that makes you happy? 

Lovely Day by Bill Withers 

Find out more about Hormazd on his website or Instagram.

Click to view Hormazd’s catalogue for Rock, Paper, Scissors. His full studio catalogue can be found here.

Interior Design by Angel O’Donnell.

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