Home Arts Simrin Mehra-Agarwal explains how her work as a technical diver inspires her art

Simrin Mehra-Agarwal explains how her work as a technical diver inspires her art

by godlove4241
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Ten artists from across the Gulf have been nominated for the second Richard Mille Art Prize. The complete list is available here.

The artists’ works are exhibited at Louvre Abu Dhabi until March 19 and the winner will be announced on March 20.

Simrin Mehra-Agarwal has always been inspired to “climb the heights of the mountain and dive deep into the sea”. She is an experienced technical diver and regularly visits submerged sites in the Gulf around the United Arab Emirates, documenting the disintegration of sunken boats and other man-made objects thrown into the water, including tanks and other war machines. “When the wrecks degenerate, they fall apart and become abstract. You have natural shapes, botanical shapes, abstract shapes, taking over from the wreckage. They grow above them.

She documents the growth of algae, bacteria and, eventually, plant life on the rusty wrecks. “The work is about this journey – it is about a liminal space in nature, which is the time between destruction and creation. When something is destroyed, it is remade. Nature recreates itself. War machines symbols of destruction and violence become symbols of hope and rebirth.

Born in Kolkata, India in 1979, Mehra-Agarwal studied painting at the University of Delhi before learning sculpture at Central Saint Martins. This led to the expansion of his practice, introducing materials such as plaster, fiberglass and sand into his works. She combines her drawings freely, layering depictions of the decaying machines with close-up looks at small flora.

Mehra-Agarwal has lived in Abu Dhabi for ten years and is currently working on a project for his Guggenheim under construction; she is also an artist in residence at the Manarat Al Saadiyat arts center, which hosts the Abu Dhabi Art Fair. It was during another residency, at the Cultural Foundation, that she began to work on large-scale pieces. The work exhibited at the Louvre, Break atom and plant forms, occupies an entire gallery wall and had to be made in situ. “I had visitors at the museum watching me and asking questions while I was working,” she says with a smile.

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