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Maya | Rewati Shahani (b. 1984, Mumbai)
50cm x 40cm (20" x 16 "), ink on film, hand-printed on photographic paper
Limited edition of 5
By painting in miniature on tiny negatives, Rewati pushes photographic materials to their limits to explore the duality of the immigrant experience. She uses the inversion of the photographic process to upend notions of race and superiority, as black faces become white, white faces black.
About the artist:
Rewati Shahani was born and brought up in Mumbai before moving to London to study Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. She has lived in the capital ever since. Much of her early work focusses on the shared histories of her current and former home cities – as seen in her large-scale ink on kora cotton maps.
In 2018, Rewati returned to Mumbai for her first solo show in India, Tides, which furthered her study of geography and place. Tides featured a series of distinct geometric forms, each broken and recast to represent the flow of people – drawn to new lands like ocean tides swelled by the moon – that in spite of artificial borders shape where, and how, we live.
In 2019, Rewati followed this with another solo show, LAND, in London. Here she turned her attention to film, pushing photographic materials to their limits to explore the duality of the immigrant experience. By painting in miniature on 4 x 6” negatives, she uses the inversion of the photographic process to upend notions of race and superiority, as black faces become white, white faces black.
Back in Mumbai for the new year, LAND 2020 continues Shahani’s study of place and nationhood – subjects that have recently come to the fore in both India and the UK. These are examined with characteristic attention to detail and an innovative approach to artistic medium. The result brings beauty to challenging topics – not least in hand-drawn maps that breathe life into some of the world’s most contentious border regions, from Kashmir to Syria.
Elsewhere, ceramic sculptures make use of more tactile materials, inspired by the symbolism and topography of India’s desert border with Pakistan – across which Shahani’s family travelled after Partition. Each deftly marries up texture and form, as fired clay gives way to delicate, curving lines that recall natural veins in the earth’s crust so far below, and so indifferent to, the man-made borders above.