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NICOLA DURVASULA

Curated by Grant Watson

Mirchandani and Steinruecke are proud to present a solo exhibition of the artist Nicola Durvasula at the India Art Fair, 2016. Born in Jersey, Durvasula studied and lived in France during the 1980s, then relocated to Hyderabad in 1992 where she stayed for ten years, teaching art at the university. During this time, through her collaboration with artists and exhibitions in institutions, Durvasala became closely associated with the Indian art scene, and has often shown in the context of contemporary Indian art. Her work, over the past thirty, has made multiple references to South Asian culture, including Moghul Miniatures and Indian temple sculpture as well as Eastern philosophy, elements she has juxtaposed within a Western aesthetic tradition. This has resulted an enigmatic and singular practice, and a visual language that does not adhere to any one period or cultural milieu.

While Durvasula is best known for her paintings, exquisitely rendered in watercolors and gouache, and her delicate drawings that often use found images from print media, she has also consistently worked in three dimensions, including her ready-made pieces from the early 1990s featuring household utensils and small scale sculptural works made from an eclectic range of ‘marginal’ materials. Over the past three years Durvasula has taken her interest in temple sculpture from drawing to three-dimensional objects, making small heads in ceramics as well as more abstract organic forms. This step into ceramics has led to an ongoing experimentation with techniques and materials, producing works that incorporate intuition and touch, the memory of shapes and the representation of facial features. This has also involved working with glazes, the unpredictability of which, through their chemical reactions recalls for the artist the process of painting with watercolors.

For the India Art Fair 2016, Druvasula presents several of these new ceramic works in glazed earthenware and porcelain, which are shown alongside earlier sculptures, made from pebbles, bricks, stones, chalk and shredded paper, elements which have been appropriated and altered. These works are displayed on a table, creating a play of material qualities, crafted and improvised elements, figuration and abstraction. While the heads have a formally resolved character other works suggest an alchemical touch.  In certain respects the ceramic heads, which are made through a process of repeated modeling, can be compared to the artist’s painted portraits produced using layers of paint to find their finished form.

Nicola Durvasula's work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke in Mumbai, Thomas Erben Gallery in New York and Nature Morte in New Delhi among others, as well as in numerous group exhibitions, including 'Thinking Tantra', Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai (2016); 'The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989', the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago (2013); 'Homespun', Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi (2012); and 'Watercolour', Tate Britain, London (2011). She lives in Walmer, England.

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