Artists > Nicola Durvasula

NICOLA DURVASULA, Untitled (president), 1999, watercolour on paper 28.5 x 20 cm / 11.2 x 7.8 in


Nicola Durvasula's work encapsulates the vague, forgetful, pondering experience one has bringing something to the minds eye, something which is not an exact replica of a person or an event, but instead a cluster of impressions that refuse to be anchored to any single individual or moment. The diversity of materials used by the artist, which include watercolour, pencil, gouache and a range of found objects as well as a pictorial plain that is constantly shifting, enhance this sense of an eclectic, unstructured thought process and the conjunction of different strata of experience.

The way in which the subject matter in her drawings hover, never quite settling down to become one thing or the other, is mirrored in how they signify in cultural terms. One could definitely place them in relation to Indian art (both traditional and modern) as they sit comfortably within a contemporary narrative tradition, as well as alongside its antecedents. Squint and they become small scale colour-field paintings, follow the lines and a story emerges from the page. The figures are elegantly poised with their gestures seeming to represent ‘something in particular’ like the figures in a miniature painting who are variously busy ‘hunting’ or ‘looking in a mirror’ or engaged in a lovers embrace. Sometimes there are multiple narratives on the go, two sets of things happening simultaneously on different parts of the page, within environments which are non- naturalistic, made up of flat colour grounds, or sketchy interiors rendered on a different scale from the figures themselves. Often what is happening in these pictures is of a vaguely erotic character.

This fact reflects the artist’s own connection to India, which has been developed over time and through long experience and become intermingled with a European way of looking at the world and representing it through art. The works are a suitable vehicle through which to consider the question of cultural hybridity. Not in terms of big clashes and dramatic juxtapositions, but instead in relation to the slow percolation of one cultural stream into another which happens over time at a micro level.

Born 1960 in Jersey, British Isles
1984 – Diplome National Superieur d’Expression Plastique, Ecole des, Beaux Arts du Havre, France
1985 – Atelier Gravure, Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris, France
1993 – Diplome Unilingue de Langue et Civilisation Orientales, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris, France
2004 – MA (Fine Art), Kent Institute of Art & Design, Canterbury, U.K.
Lives in Walmer, England

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2012
    'I Am Here', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai Curated by Grant Watson
  • 2011
    'Blame it on the Sun', Rachmaninoff's, London
  • 2008
    'Life is but a dream', part vii, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
  • 2007
    'Static lines and where they take you', Thomas Erben Gallery, NY
  • 2006
    'Rachmaninoff’s', London
  • 2004
    Nature Morte, New Delhi Galerie Rue Montgrand, E.S.B.A.M, Marseille
  • 2002
    'Indian Rope Trick', Centre 19, Montbeliard, France
  • 2000
    Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
  • 1994
    Max Mueller Bhavan, Hyderabad, India

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2013
    'The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989', Smart Museum of Art, Chicago
  • 2012
    'Homespun', Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, India Curated by Girish Shahane
  • 2011
    'Watercolour', Tate Britain, London
  • 2007
    'House of Mirrors', Grosvenor Vadehra, London Curated by Deeksha Nath
  • 2007
    'The Acceptance World', Rachmaninoff’s, London
  • 2007
    'Salon 2007: New British Painting and Works on Paper' Curated by Flora Fairbairn and Sotiris Kyriacou, London
  • 2006
    Nicola Durvasula, Chitra Ganesh, Tejal Shah, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York
  • 2006
    'Lila/Play: Contemporary Miniatures and New Art from South Asia', Cultural Festival of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2005
    Nicola Durvasula, Immo Klink, Rachmaninoff’s, London
  • 2004
    'Passion Fantastic', Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, Kent
  • 2003
    'Enchanting the Icon', Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai Curated by Marta Jakimowicz
  • 2001
    'Art on the Move', SAHMAT, New Delhi
  • 1999
    'Art from India', with Anita Dube, Pushpamala N. and Rummana Hussain, Patricia Correia Gallery, Los Angeles, USA Curated by Rasna Bhushan
  • 1999
    'Of, based on or obtained by tradition', Nature Morte Gallery, Delhi
  • 1999
    'Boundlessly various and everything simultaneously', Bose Pacia Modern, New York Curated by Peter Nagy
  • 1998
    'Born in 1960', Nicola Durvasula and C.K. Rajan, Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore
  • 1998
    'Pacaembu Project (urban sculpture)', Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 1997
    'Inter(RE)ferences', Grande Galerie, Rouen, France Curated by Dr. Virginia Whiles