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Manish Nai’s New Paintings 

Found metal sheets, kitchen butter paper, plastic netting: these are not the supports we associate with painting. And yet, in the works currently on view, Manish Nai has remade these materials, matters of the street, the factory, the market, and the home as painting’s constituents. Certainly, Nai has his turn with more conventional surfaces, as indicated by his luminous watercolors on paper, both monumental, in 2023, and intimate, as in his paintings from the 2000s. But what is it stake in these rooms is the transformation of everyday materials, through painting, to conditions for surfacing. This emerges in the works as a distinctly frontal plane, either a literally rectangular surface or a register of painted marks, that is on “top” or “in front” of the work, gaining primacy. Showing such surfaces to lead us back to depths, Nai asks us what it might mean to see aspects of one in the other. As if to say to remake a thing seen and found in the world otherwise, as painting, is to make it matter. And as if in making it matter, we are drawn from the surfacing of that thing to its depth in the world it is selected from, the real world, our world, painting sublimating materials, materials now mattering. (Meghaa Parvathy Ballakrishnen)

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