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In today’s world characterised by economic turmoil and also fuelled by an ever-growing number of conflicts, STILE BK’s has chosen to create a limited edition work dedicated to the great figures of Gandhi and Mandela. 

Rather like one of Mimmo Rotella’s décollages in which one face seems to appear underneath the “torn away” face of the other ― an “anachronistic” Baroque painting of the Saints Dominic and Francis participating in the mystical marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria who lived almost ten centuries before them ― the portraits of Gandhi and Mandela are incorporated into the weave of the eternal and Olympic space of the carpet. Two lay “saints”, two present-day heroes, rendered divine and perhaps even trivialized by the Pop culture. But STILE BK desire is to take this “aura” away and to propose once again those same values that served as a guide in their lives and were instrumental in changing the lives of millions of oppressed.

They were not quite contemporary figures as when Gandhi died, Mandela was 30 years old and in the full fling of his campaign against Apartheid. Even their approach to social struggle was not comparable; in his mission towards Indian independence, Gandhi adopted the religious precept of non-violence whereas Mandela refused an offer of parole from imprisonment by not openly declaring his opposition to armed struggle. These two figures are now found side by side in this latest work by STILE BK, which aims to highlight the common role that they played in lifting their respective people out of submission and colonialism to find their own identity; a passage from oppression to the recognition of civil rights. Just like in Plutarch’s celebrated and ancient work “Parallel lives”, Gandhi and Mandela are recreated in a tapestry which celebrates their greatness and exalts the fascination and influence that is still seen today in revolutionary figures such as Aung San Suu Kyi and Anna Stepanovna Politovskaja.

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