The graphic artist Mahesh Navani works predominantly with wood, usually the kind you might find lurking in skips or old scrap yards. Often seeing the benefits of working with existing textures, Mahesh considers the found random markings of these old items as information and his position as more of a curator than an artist.
This information is key to his approach as he feels he ´curates´ the worn in evidence of these surfaces and foresees the relationship between various textures as conversations between materials. He listens closely to what they might say with a gentle sense of intervention in the form of a paint stroke or sprayed can line. Mahesh considers this aspect similar to ´butting in´ and vital to the riveting of disparate objects. Perhaps this is the only aspect by which he considers himself an artist, in a very loose sense.
Depictions of his environment and journey
Mahesh Navani´s work is not only constructed from found materials but seeks to depict the environment it is derived from. Large blocks of wood connecting with random smaller pieces once required for some use now find a new purpose as they form abstract cityscapes of London. Mahesh lives and works in East London and many of his pieces could be considered documents of a life and a journey there. Finding a broken shard of pine from a skip in Dalston and later, an old disused bathroom cabinet in Haggerston, document a journey. This story is retold in the form of collaged sculptures or as artist and Allan Kaprow claims, ¨Assemblages¨.
In this way Mahesh is humbled by his practice and curious in his making of these Assemblages. In its simplest context, it is map charting the everyday journey of his life and work.
Assemblages again seek to re position the artist as more of a conduit for visual discovery than as sole creator of the work. And as such his extensive output is in rhythm to his input, his life in London and a statement of the things we throw away as surplus to requirement.
Owing to the extensive catalogue of work and reception it has enjoyed, Mahesh´s new work is facing challenges of scale and specific sites. This work seeks to be placed in the very spaces the material is derived from.
The ´Reclaim Hackney´ project where he is the current resident artist this year looks to provide a statement of his work in the wider context of waste renewal in East London. Identifying new uses for perceived redundant material, Mahesh is developing his work in conjunction with a local story of the recently deceased William Lyttle otherwise known as ´The Mole Man of Hackney´. Lyttle collected 10 skip loads of junk and stored them in an underground bunker under his house in Haggerston, East London for 15 years. Sharing a love of collecting old objects, Lyttle´s extensive hoardings at his former home will become the material resource for Mahesh first public sculpture as well as the exhibiting space.
The work will be on display for 6 months at the beginning of May.