The Art of Alchemy: Hormazd Narielwalla

Photograph of Hormazd Narielwalla by Denis Laner
Photograph of Hormazd Narielwalla by Denis Laner

As Hormazd Narielwalla launches his solo exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery, London, we talk to him about his art, his style, and his gloriously-groomed beard:

“I am a London based full time artist working mainly in the medium of paper collage. I was born in a Zoroastrian Indian household, and now a resident in East London next to the Whitechapel Gallery.  I like style, fashion and classic old movies.  I’m a good cook, and love tasting world foods. I think I sport a well-groomed full luscious beard.” Hormazd Narielwalla

What is the theme and inspiration behind your new exhibition at the Foundry Gallery hosted by Saatchi Art?

In these new works I explore the connection we have with architecture, inspired by Le Corbusier, who in turn looked to the buildings of classical architects such as Vitruvius, in appreciating the relationship between the proportions of the human body and architecture, both aesthetically and functionally. I wanted to explore the relationship between the physical body and architectural landscapes with particular reference to India where I grew up. Tailoring patterns are geometrical abstractions that represent the body in sections, not unlike the modular system of Le Corbusier’s buildings in Chandigarh. The artworks become a metaphor for our bodies and the architectural spaces we live in.

What inspires your creative process?

My studio is filled with paper sewing and tailoring patterns from different eras used to make various men’s and women’s clothing. Some of them date back to 1850. They tell me what to do. It’s a trigger that ignites the creative process. I sometimes also find themes that interest me. Modern day masculinity, femininity, the garden, the body, geometry which is inevitably incorporated in my work.

We have seen that you have been experimenting with colour blocking within your work, what influenced you to go in this direction?

I guess I’m tapping into my heritage of rich colour.  Also I have started visiting many specialist paper shops, and like a kid in a candy store, I buy various papers, which excite me to make work with.

What inspires your personal style?

A mix between classic traditional menswear to relaxed casual and I love hats! My really good friend and milliner Claire Strickland has made many hats for me.

Where are your favourite places to shop in London?

I have a few pieces from Savile Row. I like Hunky Dory on Brick lane and some fantastic vintage stores in Brighton.

Do you have any grooming tips or secrets?

Well I have started using your fantastic beard oil. I highly recommend it.

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