January 2022 marked an incredible culmination in the life and career of Madhvi Parekh whose journey began from a small village in western India and has taken her, against incredible odds, to the world’s most glittering cities and capitals on the strength of her art practice. At the Paris Haute Couture Week in January, audiences around the world saw Dior launch its new spring/ summer 2022 range against striking tapestries inspired by her paintings made over a six-decade career that has had no parallel in Indian art. Often extolled as a ‘woman’ painter, Madhvi Parekh’s art has never been premised on gender. Instead, she occupies an artistic realm with strong ethical values based on a sense of humanitarianism, environmental inclusion, and memory.
Entirely self-taught, Madhvi’s interest in art was spurred to an extent by her artist husband, Manu Parekh, and began with a perusal of Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook. Dots and lines fascinated her, and soon she was playing with them, creating an art form that has challenged critics and art writers because there is no easy category to which she can be easily confined. At most, it can be said that her work parallels folk art, even though it is not like any known folk form in India or elsewhere, and has the rawness and energy of modernism. Sometimes referred to as a folk modernist, hers is a style that is distinctive as well as unique.