Friday, July 27, 2012

 Pakistani artists at the 'Sub-Topical Heat'- exhibition of artists from the subcontinent at the Govett Brewster Museum, New Zealand

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery showcases the vitality and breadth of new art from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in its ground-breaking winter season all-gallery exhibition Sub-Topical Heat: New art from South Asia (14 July – 4 November).

Sub-Topical Heat is the most extensive and in-depth exhibition of art from the Subcontinent ever presented in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Works by artists Naeem Mohaiemen and Nusra Latif Qureshi will join those of Bani Abidi, Sheba Chhachhi, N S Harsha, independent publisher Raking Leaves, Gigi Scaria, Imran Qureshi and Sharmila Samant.

 The artists present works driven by the impacts of globalisation on individual lives, new trajectories within tradition, social and political justice, urban and ecological change, myth, gender and collective memory. Their visual languages span installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, miniature painting, video and photo-media.

Exhibition Curator and Govett-Brewster Director Rhana Devenport says the exhibition continues the Govett-Brewster’s unique focus within New Zealand on contemporary Pacific and Asian art practice, responding to global shifts in cultural influence and expression.

Ms Devenport says the works highlight the intellectually rigorous art emerging from South Asia in light of rapid social, political, environmental and economic transformations.

“The energy and intelligence of the art from this region is impossible to ignore and is attracting wide international attention. There has never been an exhibition of this scale of art from South Asia to date in Aotearoa New Zealand. Following previous exhibitions that featured artists from China, South Korea, Indonesia and Japan, it is appropriate that the Govett-Brewster has now turned its attention to contemporary art and artists from South Asia,” Ms Devenport says.

The exhibition is curated by Govett-Brewster Director Rhana Devenport with Meredith Robertshawe as Assistant Curator.

The exhibiting artists:

Bani Abidi was born in Karachi, Pakistan and divides her practice between Karachi and New Delhi, India. Abidi’s videos, photographic works and drawings use elements of performance, enactment and orchestration to explore the processes of political history, popular imagination and the formation of identity.

Sheba Chhachhi was born in Ethiopia and lives in New Delhi, India. Chhachhi’s photo based multimedia installations examine and express the experience, history and power of the female consciousness and explores violence, visual culture and ecology.

NS Harsha was born and lives in Mysore, India. In Nations Harsha creates a vision of a world united and divided by flags, labour and economic dependencies. 192 sewing machines are overlaid with hand painted calico flags signifying the countries that make up the United Nations. Nations refers to the outsourcing of labour in response to the demands of world economies, as well as the networks that exist between countries. The work was shown at the Sharjah Biennial in 2009 and is widely recognised as a powerful and multi-layered commentary on globalisation.

Independent publisher Raking Leaves collaborates with artists to publish contemporary art projects in the form of books, videos and special editions. The exhibition will include a site-specific reading room dedicated to these collaborations.

Naeem Mohaiemen is a writer and artist working in Dhaka and New York City. He uses text, photo, video and archives to explore histories of the international left, post-partition South Asia and globally interlinked security panic.

Sharmila Samant was born in and lives in Mumbai, India. Samant uses a multi-disciplinary approach, working in photography, installation and video. Her socially engaged works explore social justice within a global and environmental context, highlighting the issue of the exploitation of natural and traditional resources. Samant’s work deals with issues of identity and explores the homogenising effect of commodification in developing economies. Samant will be working within the Taranaki landscape on a new film work exploring water, Te Ao Maori and cross-cultural relationships.

Gigi Scaria was born in Kerala, India and lives in Delhi, India. Scaria’s photography and installations investigate political and geographical territories against ideas of contemporary migration, belonging and community. Urban architecture and symbolic structures are reconfigured and re-imagined through his photographs and sculpture.

Imran Qureshi was born in Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan and now lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan. Qureshi works from the Mughal heritage of Miniature painting, with its emphasis on draughtsmanship and the delicate repetition of decorative motifs and complex layers of colour. He redefines this tradition in contemporary terms in response to political tensions, violence and current social conditions.

Nusra Latif Qureshi was born in Pakistan and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. Qureshi re-contextualises traditional Mughal painting techniques to articulate contemporary ideas of migrant identity and the presence of women within history, engaging with the rich, visual histories of South Asia.

Sheba Chhachhi, Sharmila Samant, NS Harsha and Gigi Scaria will be visiting New Plymouth for the exhibition opening events, as will art historian and curator Dr Chaitanya Sambrani from the Australian National University School of Art, a leading international specialist on contemporary art from South Asia.

Work above: Portraits-8: Imran Qureshi Portraits-8 2007.

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