The Ritual Khoj : The Khoj Exhibition over the years
The annual Khoj exhibition has been a ritual for many - representing an annual pre Diwali tradition to fill the house with a special piece or two and catch up with festivities.
Hari Krishnan, advertising professional, amateur artist, avid digital artist, is a typical Khoj insider. He's an avid collector of Khoj pieces, one of our biggest evangelists and a documenter of the Khoj exhibition over the years.
In this blog, he captures the exhibition glimpses from the years past, shares his personal collection and re-lives his discovery of Khoj.
For the first time in 14 years, a global event disrupted our much-awaited annual ritual of walking down a quaint stairway into the charming basement of Khoj Exhibits, to browse a treasure trove of exquisite, imaginative creations by Akhil Kumar, an unusual limited-edition exhibition that is held for just four days every year.
Every year, we would land up early at the venue, anxious that we don’t fall in love with something that already has a red dot sticker on its label, signalling it’s ‘sold and unavailable’ status.
Not always visited in an acquisitive mode but for aesthetic stimulation as well, Khoj has been a veritable art gallery in its own right; a space where the artist’s unique expression is hosted to the world, manifested in his beautiful creations.
Akhil Uncle (that’s how we fondly address the artist) brings his passion, creative vision and diligence to re-invent and re-craft old artifacts into contemporary furniture, lamps, mirrors, accessories and other art pieces to adorn any modern-day home.
He travels to obscure towns and villages, visits junkyards, warehouses and demolition sites of old ‘havelis’, rescues discarded artefacts and re-imagines a new life for them, often fusing them with objects to create an altogether new form, meaning, almost a reincarnation.
Khoj creations are practical, comfortable and stylish home products that combine ethnic Indian sensibility with contemporary aesthetics.
Every October, we would wait for the shifting slant of sunrays and the civilized huddle-and- tip-toeing in between the carefully curated installations and artefacts at Khoj.
No piece is repeated, so our ability to process the new creations is pleasantly challenged. Our eyes scan for things we might have missed for a second and third look; our senses are receiving ideas, shapes, forms, colours and textures that they are not conditioned to.
Much of it is unexpected and delightfully surprising. An old metal railing, a protector, a guardian; born again as a stem of a lamp that holds the source of knowledge- light. Traditional cooking instruments, ladles and utensils brought out of the dinghy, smoky kitchen to adorn the walls of a guest room, hosting little figurines and objects of pride. Baby cradles reimagined as bar shelves to stay with the newborn until she comes of age to uncork the. celebratory bottle.
Each piece that one sees at Khoj is an example of reincarnation – the experience is nothing short of an inspiration of living life – that there is always a chance for reinvention, no matter what one is made of; what colour one is painted with at birth; what role one played before getting exhausted and discarded.
This year, having spent most of our time indoors and at home, we have perhaps engaged with all the spaces and objects within, like never before. ( Seen below are pieces from Hari and Alka's personal collection )
Gazing a bit longer at every piece collected from Khoj over the years, with ‘camera off’ during video calls, was creative distraction at its best, it helped revaluate each possession, how organically they become part of our world, how we find new spaces, new uses for them within the same boundaries of our sacred space called home.
True to the name, ‘Khoj’ is the search for one’s role and purpose beyond mere existence.
As I look intently at an object of divinity created by Akhil uncle, I hope and pray that we overcome the prevailing obstacles and find a way to feel the enriching and enlivening experience called ‘Khoj’.