The museum in La Louvière is divided into 3 rooms on 3 different floors, for a surface of 1200 m². Prints and multiples will be showed in the first floor and a big installation will occupy the second floor.
It will be the first time that a museum will dedicate an exhibition connecting her installations to her printed works. She will be also the curator of an exhibition in the third floor, selecting some pieces from the Collection of the museum in regard with a ‘painting extension’, created directly on the walls.
It will be the first exhibition of Nalini Malani in Belgium.
Nalini Malani was born in Karachi in 1946. As the pioneer of performance and video art in India, she is one of the most influential artists of her generation. Since the early 1970s, she has been denouncing violence against women, especially within Indian society. She has been developing an engaged type of art by letting her mythical characters, symbols of insubordination, tell contemporary stories.
Although her world is political, it seems fantastic at first glance. Without central perspective, it refers to the Indian miniatures and to the paintings by Jérôme Bosch. Nalini Malani names the Garden of Earthly Delights as one of her greatest sources of inspiration. The artist mixes and manipulates the ideas and cultural stereotypes in order to express a vision of the world in which the boundaries are fading away.
As a multimedia artist, Nalini Malani is one of the first designers in India who expanded her painter’s practice by developing art books, ephemeral wall drawings, shadow plays and various video projections. Her art takes us beyond the printed art.
Nalini Malani’s video art – From filmed performance to video play
Nalini Malani has been exploring the video world since the late 1960s. While living in Paris, she made experimental films in 16 mm, leading to a series of short films focusing on the female body. Back in India, she gave up on this medium for financial reasons. However, her drawings and paintings already contained a cinematographic aspect. In the early 1990s, the sociopolitical situation in India, generating new waves of violence, would reorientate her work. By means of video, she hopes to reach the widest possible audience.
Around 1989, while her studio was being renovated, Nalini Malani adopted a nomadic lifestyle. This constraint inspired her to create art books, a genre that was still underdeveloped in India. She made a series of limited edition books, inspired by works or stories in which she tried to deny the idea of the unique and to reach a larger audience.
Listening to the Shades, 2008
An artist’s book by Nalini Malani and Robert Storr, inspired by the writing of Christa Wolf on the ancient Greek Myth of Cassandra. In the forty-two reverse paintings that are facsimile printed, Malani retells the story that implies what has been denied to women. Cassandra’s insights are ignored and considered heretical. She symbolizes the unfinished business of the women’s revolution - a woman’s thoughts and premonitions are not understood and recognized. Malani re-activates the myth pertinent to the time, germane to the contemporary that we are living in.
Nalini Malani wanted to present the PAO collective’s graphic novel as a long frieze interwoven with collages she made in collaboration with students of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.
PAO is a collective consisting of five drawers living in Delhi: Amitabh Kumar, Orijt Sen, Sarnath Banerjee, Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Parismita Sigh. They relied on other drawers and scenario writers in order to create this anthology. It dates back from 2006 when Amitabh Kumar did some research on comic strips in India, in the Sarai Media Lab, an artists' residence in Delhi. PAO is a compilation of twelve very different stories representing, for the collective, the beginning of an ambitious project aiming to upgrade different types of storytelling in an Indian context. Some of the stories, which are true style mixes, incorporate elements of Indian culture, such as RSVP whose drawing refers to the paintings by Kalighat (School of painting, created in Calcutta around the Kalighat temple in the 19th century ); other stories are more reminiscent of the Western or Japanese style, with Tattoo or ChilkaI.
The term ‘graphic novel’, which appeared in the mid 1980s, includes works of art that differ from the classic strips (picture books with a soft cover for a young audience) by their format, storytelling and visual research. Some examples: the picture books Maus by Art Spiegelman or Black Hole by Charles Burns (listed under the term ‘graphic novel’).
After having worked together with youngsters during projects in India and Japan, Nalini Malani wanted to repeat the experience at the ‘Centre de la Gravure’ [Centre for engravings] for an in situ creation. The collages were created out of pictures the students cut out from the international press, about the theme of the body. According to Nalini, we are being confronted with more and more information. Although this amount of information is increasing day after day, we have only developed few tools to identify and understand it. Experimental art, as it has been developed through collages in the 20th century, could appear to be useful.
The pages of the book The Morality of Refusal are close to the PAO and the collages. This book published for the Documenta of Kassel in 2012, includes an essay by the Indian anthropologist Arjun Appadurai and drawings by Nalini Malani. The text proposes a reflection on the non-violence developed by Gandhi. In addition to the drawing, there are red pages, pieces extracted from the prints In Search of Vanished Blood, visible on the ground floor.