The show was curated in response to a recent survey of work by artists of South Asian descent in public collections in the North West.
The exhibition showcases the works which are currently in regional collections, including those of the three exhibition venues, whilst at the same time highlighting the need for South Asian artists to be profiled more significantly.
The exhibition incorporates three new commissions by artists working in or originating from the North West, providing support for emerging artists while strengthening and diversifying the region’s permanent collections.
Alnoor Mitha, Director of contemporary South Asian crafts and visual arts agency Shisha in Manchester says:
“The North West has been home to South Asian communities since the 1950s. Yet in this time, there has been no significant South Asian art collection in the permanent collection of the local galleries. This exhibition addresses this need and builds a foundation for South Asian artists to establish links with the galleries, the region and create relationships with local and cultural diverse audiences.”
Shezad Dawood is a multi-media artist who was inspired by his varied cultural heritage, having a Pakistani mother, Indian father and an Irish Stepmother. This is mirrored in his interest in the variety within different forms of art and the systems which society use to judge their value.
Emerging artists with links to the North West include Zarah Hussain, known for her geometric paintings and Pakistani-born British ceramist
Halima Cassell whose deeply carved, large-scale, contoured sculptural vessels are made from a heavily grogged, unglazed clay and are inspired by Islamic and African art and architectural geometry.
Jagjit Chuhan’s work is often interpreted as a celebration of womanhood linked to Hindu philosophy and the idea of ‘mother’ as a creative spirit, which lies at the heart of Hindi religious iconography. This concept is a recurring motif in the poetry of Rabrindinath Tagore, the celebrated Indian poet painter and a significant influence on Chuhan. There is a tension and interrogation of what it means to be a woman, the pleasure and the pain of the physical, emotional and psychic experience.
Kanak Chanpa Chakma is a successful international artist basing her work on her own experience of tribal life in the Chittagong Hills in Bangladesh. Her work focuses mainly on women and the sense of alienation felt by ethnic groups who have been forced to abandon traditional ways of life. Shishir Bhattacharjee works as a political cartoonist and painter. His paintings often feature popular imagery from the Bengali film industry. His characters are taken from film posters and feature archetypal heroes and villains. Shafiqul Kabir Chandan is a leading Bangladeshi artist who works exclusively with textiles. He explores contemporary themes using traditional techniques studied in the villages of Bengal.
Neeta Madahar received her MFA from the Museum School at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2003. As a British citizen of Indian descent who has lived and worked in the States, Madahar constantly refers to themes of migration and transition throughout her work. She taps into associations with childhood and dreamlike states of the imagination as she documents the each stage of the flight and landing of a sycamore leaf.
Iftikhar Dadi’s work investigates the salience of popular urban and media cultures in the construction of memory, borders, and identity in contemporary globalisation. Shanti Panchal was born and brought up in Gujrat and has always focused on the human figure. He paints large scale watercolours on heavyweight paper.
Fellow Gujrati, Dhruva Mistry is a sculptor whose work is held in major public collections in UK, Japan and India and Imran Qureshi, one of Pakistan’s leading contemporary artists, creates work that has a socio-political subtext.
Other artists include prominent painter and calligrapher Abdus Shakoor, Faruk Ahamad, Fareha Zeba, Rokeya Sultana, Sutapa Biswas, Atia Islam Anne, Saleem Arif Quadri, Suresh Dutt, Tanvi Kant and Alnoor Mitha.
Tour continues at Touchstones Rochdale from 2 April – 26 June 2011 and Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery from 9 July-17 September, 2011.