An artistic collaboration between Madhvi Parekh, Manu Parekh, Karishma Swali,
and the Chanakya School of Craft.


curated by Maria Alicata and Paola Ugolini


April 20, 2024
November 24, 2024


Free admission

Cosmic Garden

The Chanakya Foundation and Karishma Swali present Cosmic Garden, an artistic collaboration between Madhvi Parekh, Manu Parekh, and Karishma Swali creative director and co-founder of the Chanakya Foundation. Curated by Maria Alicata and Paola Ugolini.


Marking its inaugural showcase in Venice, the presentation pays homage to the pluralistic beauty of India’s artisanal legacies and indigenous art traditions. Curated by Maria Alicata and Paola Ugolini, the exhibition will take place at Salone Verde – Art & Social Club in Venice, Italy, from 20 April to 24 November 2024.


This carefully curated series of works embraces a multidisciplinary approach, dismantling entrenched ideological hierarchies within the art world. It casts a spotlight on the contemporary reinterpretation of traditional techniques, transcending conventional boundaries to carve out a new artistic language rooted in collective cultural histories. The exhibition features an array of paintings and sculptures by Madvhi Parekh and Manu Parekh, as well as their metamorphosis into
a third interdisciplinary medium — hand-embroidery — an art form refined over millennia.


Manu Parekh’s art assimilates India’s cultural tapestry while embracing elements of Western modernism and abstract expressionism. His vibrant compositions, characterised by broken lines, stripes, crosses, and floral motifs, embody the cosmic harmony of masculine and feminine energies. On the other hand, Madhvi Parekh’s works portray formidable female deities encircled by celestial beings and symbolic representations, inspired from Indian myths and emphasising
the connection between humans and the divine.


Karishma Swali and 320 highly-skilled artisans from Chanakya conceptualised and interpreted the textile re-imaginings through meticulous needlework embroidery and handcrafting techniques, utilising organic materials like raw linen, jute, silk, and cotton. The result becomes a true artistic statement: a practice based on a dialogue that reinvents the role of the artist and the artisan, blurring the boundaries between art and craft.


Over the span of her 25-year career, Karishma Swali has been dedicated to elevating and preserving India’s cultural heritage through craft excellence. In 2016, creative director at the Chanakya Foundation, she established the Chanakya School of Craft, a pivotal institution aimed at harnessing the power of craft to address the pressing challenges faced by women. The guiding mission of this school is twofold: to safeguard India’s cultural heritage and to unlock the infinite
potential of craft. The school has taught over 1000 women to-date, across all ages and socio-economic backgrounds forming a strong community of skilled women. Notably, in recent years, Karishma Swali has also fostered meaningful partnerships with luminaries like Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s Women’s Collection, and collaborated with influential contemporary artists, such as Judy Chicago, Olesia Trofymenko, Mickalene Thomas, and Marta Roberti.


Actively involving women from diverse backgrounds, these all-encompassing projects have significantly emphasised the importance of educational institutions dedicated to creating a new autonomy for women while championing craft excellence. Held at Salone Verde – Art & Social Club in the historic Venetian district of Rialto, and curated by Maria Alicata and Paola Ugolini, Cosmic Garden shines light on the vital role of local communities in showcasing their material culture and preserving the rich, diverse essence of Indian traditions.