Mumbai-based Rutuja Mali uses covers of old matchboxes and oregano packets to illustrate relatable scenarios
For most of us, an empty packet of oregano seasoning or a matchbox might be trash but for Artist Rutuja Mali, it is an opportunity to create art. The Mumbai-based artist has been making a series called ‘accordion books’ using such objects and illustrating relatable instances that happen while using them.Many of us are guilty of looking for a candle using the phone’s torchlight or spending a long time beating coffee as guests wait for their serving of a hot cup. Rutuja illustrates the dialogues most of us say during such situations, be it “Torch maar na, candle nahi mil rahi’ or “ Coffee bani?? Phentt rahi hoon”. “Art need not be exquisite, it is hidden in everyday objects you just need to have the eye for it. I started the series with a matchbox cover that was lying around my house for several years. Initially, I wanted to just make a zine out of it but then I thought the accordion book would be nice as the folds always have an element of surprise in them,” says Rutuja who is professionally an art director. What started as a one-off thing is now a series of six-illustrations. Her other creations involve the tale of lending erasers that are never returned, or being handed a matchbox when asked for a lighter, or using Eno when one runs out of baking powder.
Some of these artworks come from her own experiences while some are ideas conceived through conversations happening around her. “The Eno accordion book comes from a conversation I had with a friend who mentioned that most of the shops do not have stocks of Eno as people were using it while baking at home during the lockdown. It was only then that I realised baking powder can be replaced by Eno and it was all those social media trends that had made Eno fly off the shelves,” laughs Rutuja. This conversation led to the making of ‘“Baking powder khatam” “Yeh daal”’ illustration where a person is handling a packet of Eno as a replacement to baking powder.
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