by Sukanya GargMay 12, 2020
Internationally acclaimed Indian artist Nalini Malani (b. 1946, Karachi) marked her solo debut with Can You Hear Me?: Nalini Malani 1969-2018 at the Arario Gallery in Shanghai, China, following her retrospectives at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem (2005), Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi (2014), Centre Pompidou in France (2017), and Castello di Rivoli in Italy (2018). Her exhibition was on display from November 6, 2018 till February 17, 2019.
Malani is widely acknowledged for her masterful refinement of a woman's historical vision concerning the global tensions around piercing conflicts. She is regarded as one of the foremost contemporary artists from India. Her work has also been exhibited at the Shanghai Biennale 2018. Additionally, she has participated in several grand international exhibitions, including Kassel Documenta in 2012, La Biennale di Venezia in 2007 and others. Malani is one of the few female artists from Asia to hold a retrospective exhibition at Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2017, and also at Castello di Rivoli, Italy. In fact, Malani is the first woman artist from Asia to get the honour of the Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize in the field of contemporary art in 2013.
Brought up in India, a melting pot of diverse ethnic groups, languages and religions, Malani focuses on the trauma caused by endless conflicts between religions and ethnic groups. The history of constant disunion and chaos, which dispersed to racial and religious disputes even after they were liberated from long colonialism, has been the solid basis for her works. Her artistic language, categorised into race, class and gender, is represented as a visual final product mixing the wounds and suffering of India's history with her own personal stories. Their narratives, wherein past and present, true records and falsehoods, and history and myth are linked like a Mobius strip, are dismantled and restructured in various methods within an organic space where visual media, its creator, and its viewers join together. They are both inscribers and creators of history at the same time.
The exhibition, titled Can You Hear Me?: Nalini Malani 1969-2018, came from one of the artist's stop motion sketch animation series, made entirely with iPad drawings in 2018, which urgently called for the public's attention toward numerous conflicts, clashes, and paradoxes in opposition with the universal value of the mankind. Malani shared her new animations made of iPad drawings through Instagram as well as by exhibiting the latest stop motion animation works with her very first stop motion video created in 1969. Her exhibition at Arario Gallery Shanghai delivered the ‘never stop’ experimental spirit of this master female artist. The exhibition encompassed Malani's photography and videos from 1960s, large-scale film installations, stop-motion animations, reverse paintings and other works emblematic of the artist's rich career over the last 50 years.