Villa Swagatam in Lucknow establishes a cultural exchange network between French designers and Indian artisans

Recently the artistic repertoire of French Moroccan artist Yassine Balbzioui encompassing painting, embroidery and drawing showcased the commitment of the French  training institute  towards cross cultural art and craft learning.

Yassine’s residency at The Kalhath Institute was founded in 2016 by Maximiliano Modesti and Mohammed Amine Dadda, heralding a unique collaboration between the world of art and craft. 

The craftsmen on the Kalhath team are specialists in hand embroidery. Their craft covers the techniques of Zardosi, Ari, and a host of others, passed down through generations of craftsmen.

The training classes organised here aim to develop the all-round skills of artisans with potential. The residents are encouraged to utilize the artisanal resources at Kalhath for the duration of their residency in an environment that is symbiotic in nature.

In the recent past, Kalhath has had artists such as T. Venkanna and Pierre Roy Camille – supported by the French Institute in India – create artworks with their artisans.

His artistic repertoire predominantly encompasses painting and drawing, employing a neo-expressionist approach. His approach showcases the essence of Villa Swagatam’s commitment to reciprocity and the exchange of creative excellence.

According to Yassine, he intended to play a game of “ping-pong” with the craftsmen, the artisans embroidered his ink interventions on the fabric.

“The starting point is a bestiary that is half human half animal, freely inspired by fairy tales, but also by the history of Lucknow city, as well as its embroidery techniques.” mentions Yassine.

A network of local partners across the two countries — aims to strengthen the dialogue between France and India in the fields of literature, performing arts, and arts & craft.

Right from the start of this year, the residencies are happening exclusively in India at  16 various locations which have in common expertise on Indian art forms (embroidery, puppetry, dance, illustrated books) as well as an ability to interact with local key players.

The institute, based in Lucknow, specialises in hand embroidery, encompassing techniques like Zardosi and Ari, passed down through generations.

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