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Two Heads are Better than One, 2011
Gouache and Ink on Paper
26.7 x 39.3 inches
RM -01
Crossing the First Threshold, 2012
Gouache and Ink on Paper
35.4 x 23.6 inches
RM -02
Creative Dismemberment II, 2011
Gouache & Ink on Paper
39.3 x 27.6 inches
RM -03
Noctua Femina, 2011
Gouache and Ink on Paper
39.3 x 27.5 inches
RM -04
Anna, 2014
Embroidery Hoop with Gouache & Ink on Paper
9.8 x 11 inches
RM -05
Anna, 2014 .JPG

Rithika Merchant (b. 1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons The New School of Design, New York (2008). Since graduating, she has exhibited her work extensively, including a number of solo exhibitions in India, Spain, Germany, France and the United States.Her most recent solo shows include, Birth of a New World at TARQ, Mumbai (2021), Mirror of the Mind at Galerie L.J, Paris, France (2019); Where the Water Takes us at TARQ, Mumbai (2017) and Ancestral Home at Galeria Bien Cuadrado, Barcelona (2017).Her recent group exhibitions include a two-person show Osmosis at TARQ, Mumbai, curated by ShaleenWadhwana (2019); Spring! A Group Show of Contemporary Drawing at Galerie LJ, Paris (2019) and Chloe Couture at the National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kieve, Ukraine (2019).Other groups shows include Homo Faber at The Michaelangelo Foundation, Venice ( 2018) ; Portal at October Gallery, London (2018) and Sensorium / The End Is Only The Beginning Sunaparanta, Goa Centre for the Arts, Goa (2018).She has also collaborated with Chloé, a French fashion house on multiple collections for which she was awarded the Vogue India Young Achiever of the Year Award at its Women of the Year Awards 2018. She was also named one of Vogue Magazine’s Vogue World 100 Creative Voices.She currently divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.

About the Work

Noctua Femina and Two Heads Are Better Than One

Both these pieces are from my series “Origin of Species” Most of my creatures are hybrids. I love the idea of two creatures gently merging or emerging, embodying the duality that is within everything in nature. I also explore the idea of many selves in conversation with one another. Noctua is the genus/ species name for the little owl.  This creature is a totem of female power, a hybrid of air/ land/ water beings.

Crossing The First Threshold 

My Monomyth is a conversation with Joseph Campbell's theory of the Hero/ Monomyth. The Monomyth refers to the journey of the Hero. There is a pattern that involves seventeen steps that the hero passes through during his journey. The seventeen step journey is split up into three phases - the departure, the initiation and the return.  

I create a myth that discusses a woman as a Hero. Somewhere the works are autobiographical,  as each time I return to the city, it unwelcomes me with its hostility towards women; a changing urbans cape that often sees the city divide into pockets of gated communities and an ever increasing insensitivity to our fellow inhabitants. My works celebrate a certain past that might arise out of a certain nostalgia of freedom and diversity the city once offered.  Also for the need of myth, with a female protagonist unlike the epics we have received across religions.  Crossing the first threshold is the 4th step of the hero’s journey. This is the point where the hero actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are unknown. 

Creative Dismemberment II 

Creation by the dismemberment of a primordial being. A new beginning for us, one that is born from and more in harmony with nature. Creation by dismemberment  is a form of world parent myth, creation itself springs from dismembered parts of the body of the primeval being. Often in these stories the limbs, hair, blood, bones or organs of the primeval being are somehow severed or sacrificed to transform into sky, earth, animal or plant life, and other worldly features. These myths tend to emphasize creative forces as animistic (the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena) in nature rather than sexual, and depict the sacred as the elemental and integral component of the natural world.


I have found that often creation comes from a dark place, which is why I find creation myths so compelling. These myths are found in almost all human cultures. There are numerous myths and ideas which speak of creation by the dismemberment or out of some body part or fluid of a primordial being.  The moon itself was created through a destructive process. It was formed from the debris from a huge collision of an ancient planet (Theia) with Earth. Creation or evolution often happens through chaos, violence or destruction. It is natures way.


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