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Redrawing borders with Italian artist Tarshito N Stippoli

Italian artist Tarshito N Stippoli sees himself as a seamster who bridges cultures through art

Redrawing borders with Italian artist Tarshito N Stippoli


Shireen Quadri 

Italian artist Tarshito N Stippoli believes in the fluidity of borders. In his universe, the world is one big family, bound together by the timeless threads of love, creativity, and connection. This ethos underpins his cross-cultural artistic practice — a celebration of unity, diversity, and the spirit of collaboration. His latest solo exhibition, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which is currently on view at the Crafts Museum in Delhi, is a testimony to his quest to redraw and reframe the world’s map. Curated by Gallery Threshold founder Tunty Chauhan, it brings together Tarshito’s collaborative works with the practitioners of over 25 traditional Indian art forms, including kalamkari (hand-painted or block-printed textile), kantha (quilted embroidery) and pattachitra (cloth-based scroll painting).

Born Nicola Strippoli in 1952 in Italy’s picturesque region of Apulia, Tarshito’s journey in art began with a trip to India in 1979, when  he met his spiritual guide, Osho, who gave him the name ‘Tarshito’, which means ‘a seeker of inner knowledge’. Since then, Tarshito has come to India more than 60 times. These journeys have not only enriched his artistic repertoire, but also helped him forge special bonds with local artisans. A modern-day Renaissance Man, he juggles multiple careers as an architect, artist, sculptor, gallerist, teacher and performer. In an era marked by increasing nationalism and divisions, Tarshito sees artists as torchbearers of unity. He believes that art has the power to disarm, embrace and illuminate, serving as a beacon of hope in a fractured world. As he eloquently puts it, “The new world without frontiers, a world of love and peace, is in each of us.”

Besides India, Tarshito has worked with traditional artists in Nepal, Thailand, Brazil, Morocco, Bangladesh, Peru, China, Uruguay and Argentina. He sees himself as a seamster who sews and bridges cultures. “I don’t see skin colour or social status; instead, I strive to understand the inner essence of individuals and use art as a means to foster solidarity. This project is my life’s work, and often, life responds to me with serendipitous encounters, affirming that I am on the right path — the path of kinship and harmony,” underlines the artist whose works are visual hymns to the interconnectedness of all beings, transcending the limitations of time and space. By engaging in jugalbandi (artistic duets) with indigenous artists from around the globe, he orchestrates a symphony of cultural exchange, where each stroke of the brush — or every warp and weft of needle and thread — becomes a harmonious melody in the universal song of humanity.

Growing up in southern Italy, which boasts of Castel Del Monte, built by Frederick II of Swabia to convene wise men from around the world to discuss life and explore its mysteries in 1240 AD, he was influenced by various cultures, including Greek and Arab. “I feel like a product of these cultural intersections, and my inclination to be a traveller on this planet likely stems from the environment I grew up in, which was steeped in diverse architectural and cultural influences,” he recalls. As an adult, armed with a degree in architecture — ‘the mother of all arts’ — and having studied the Vedas, he felt drawn to old art forms. “I chose to collaborate with Indian painters, spending many years engaging with artists in villages. Subsequently, I expanded my horizons to embrace the global community while continuing to collaborate with indigenous artists because I believe that in tradition lies the essence of life’s values and humanity’s roots,” he says. 

On till April 15


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