We ask leading artists Asim Waqif, Ayesha Singh, Mithu Sen, Sajid Wajid Shaikh, Sajan Mani, Manu Parekh and Thukral & Tagra, along with Gulammohammed Sheikh and Nilima Sheikh’s presence virtually, to reflect on and articulate their vision of the collective future for artists and creatives in South Asia. Together they examine the effects of the past and the contingencies of the present. Join us as personal story and humour converges with critical analysis, speculation and conscience. The talk will be moderated by researcher and arts manager Priya Chauhan.
Generously supported by JSW and curated by researcher and arts manager, Priya Chauhan, ART ACROSS —— celebrates the power of critical dialogue and the critical need for celebrating the arts. Spanning key issues in art, design and architecture from a variety of perspectives including from institutions, market experts, philanthropists and creatives, the series aims to foster an inclusive platform to explore contemporary culture, with South Asia at its centre. All talks will also be conducted in Indian Sign Language.
Asim Waqif: Asim Waqif (b.1978) studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. After initially working as an art director for film and television, he later started making independent video and documentaries before moving into a dedicated art practice. His recent projects have attempted to crossover between architecture, art and design, with a strong contextual reference to contemporary urban planning (or the lack thereof) and the politics of occupying, intervening in, and using public spaces. Some of his projects have developed within abandoned and derelict buildings in the city that act like hidden activity spaces for the marginalized.
Ayesha Singh: Ayesha Singh is an interdisciplinary artist born in New Delhi, who creates work with participatory performances, kinetic sculptures, sculptural line drawings, large scaffold and image installations that are created with community involvement, video, sculpture and often graphite drawings on paper. Singh explores how architecture embeds power dynamics, reveals political nuances in nation-building, and shapes identity and behavior, often evidencing the alteration of history. She has exhibited in solo and group shows worldwide and her work is a part of public collections including the Cincinnati Art Museum, USA; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK; Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bangalore; and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; and The Partition Museum, Amritsar.
Mithu Sen: Born in 1971 in West Bengal, Mithu Sen obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in painting from Kala Bhavan at Santiniketan, and later, completed a postgraduate program at the Glasgow School of Art in the United Kingdom on the prestigious Charles Wallace India Trust Award for 2000-2001. Mithu Sen performs conceptual and interactive multi-format byproducts which include drawing, performance, poetry, moving images, sculptures, installations, sound, and others to explore and subvert hierarchical codes and rules, with reference to the ‘myths’ of sexuality, language, market, and marginalization. She constantly (un)defines concepts and their functioning regarding acceptable modes of interactions, questioning pre-codified hierarchies that define the social performance of roles, and politics of tabooed identity. Through various devices and interventions, methodologies at play, vulnerability, and intuition she challenges the standards of social exchange, undermining the codes we come to rely on.
Sajid Wajid Shaikh: Sajid Wajid Shaikh is a Mumbai based multimedia artist. Following a set of driving principles influenced by an organic intuition, his works take on different forms in terms of themes and mediums.
Sajan Mani: Sajan Vazhakaparambil Kolavan Kalyanikutty Mani/ Sajan Mani is an interdisciplinary artist and curator hailing from a family of rubber tappers in a village in the northern part of Keralam, South India. Sajan was the first Indian to be awarded the Berlin Art Prize in 2021. He has participated in international biennales, festivals, exhibitions and residencies.
Thukral & Tagra: Thukral and Tagra are a Delhi-based artist duo comprising Jiten Thukral (b. 1976, Jalandhar, Punjab) and Sumir Tagra (b. 1979, New Delhi). Driven by the artistic methodologies of painting, gaming, archiving, and publishing, their multifaceted studio practice reflects the scope of engagement in the cultural and political landscape of India and the world. While their early career work dealt with the intricacies of consumer culture globally, their recent interest in ecology and climate change is a revisiting of their family histories of migration and farming in the Indian state of Punjab. Through and beyond their studio practice, Thukral & Tagra create new formats of public engagement and attempt to expand the threshold of what art can do. These also include the non-profit Foundation that addresses ongoing social issues through education and art, their collaborative learning lab Pollinator that fosters cross-pollinations across creative fields, and the new publishing and distribution platform andArchive that reconfigures the potential of the print and the archive. Further, their immersive and multi-modal sensory installations offer seamless accessibility to audiences from varied backgrounds and approaches, breaking through the spectatorial protocols of “high art.”
Gulammohammed Sheikh: Born in 1937, Gulammohammed Sheikh is an acclaimed painter, poet, art critic, and teacher from Gujarat, India. He did his B.A. in Fine Art in 1959 and M.A. in 1961 from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. He later joined the university as a professor and taught art history and painting for nearly three decades. Sheikh received the Padma Shri in 1983 and Padmabhushan in 2014 for his contribution to the field of art. An artist with an eclectic oeuvre, his works have been exhibited in private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, USA. Apart from being an artist, Sheikh has also been an active writer publishing poetry and critical writing.
Nilima Sheikh: Comment start Nilima Sheikh was born in 1945 in Delhi. After graduating in History at Delhi University, she trained in Baroda during 1965-71. Her work focuses on displacement, longing, loss, roots, violence, the perception of tradition and ideas of femininity. Her landscapes using tempera on handmade paper or canvas, are influenced by Chinese, Persian, Central Asian, pre-Renaissance European and North Indian schools of tempera painting. Her visual and textual layering, often marked by a subtle mix of lore and history, offer glimpses of multiple worlds, and a commitment to feminist realities. She has also been pushing for the sustainability of the traditional methods and materials and engagement with the practice of traditional painters. She has written on art in books, journals or as catalogue essays; and illustrated books for children. In the 1990s, as part of a women’s collective she designed for theatre productions. Collaborating with fellow artists and craftspeople from Srinagar she made a large mural ‘Conjoining Lands’, 50’ x 180’, for the airport in Mumbai in 2014. She lives and works in Vadodara.
Manu Parekh: Born in 1939, Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Manu Parekh received his Diploma in Drawing and Painting from Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1962. He has received several awards including ones instituted by the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata in 1971 & 1991; the President’s Silver Plaque from All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society, New Delhi in 1972. He is also a recipient of the National Award by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in 1982. The Government of India honoured him with Padma Shri in 1992. He lives and works in New Delhi.
Priya Chauhan: Priya Chauhan is a researcher, curator, and arts manager based in New Delhi, India. She holds a Masters in History of Art from National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation & Museology and works along the intersection of art, education, heritage, culture, architecture and community building. She has assisted in several textile and cutting edge contemporary art exhibitions with Devi Art Foundation, held at National Museum, New Delhi, Crafts Museum, New Delhi and Okhla Warehouses etcetera. A Sahapedia UNESCO fellow and visiting faculty at National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, she is the curator for ART ACROSS —— the Talks Programme for India Art Fair’s 15th Edition in New Delhi.