My practice led research is as a painter who explores urban alienation in contemporary transcultural contexts, based on my journeys in my immediate urban environments through depicting the cultural diversity of people including crowds, iconic buildings and sculptures alongside self-portraits or room interiors. I have an interest in cross cultural influences of POC communities in cities and my own identity as a British South Asian artist.
I use both monochromatic and vivid colours in my expressionistic figurative paintings. I create large images using oil on canvas, with montage as an important element with how the images are constructed.
Other Daughter 2021 is about the tension of a Sikh family because of the old and new generation against the backdrop of possible alienation of the Sikh Gurdwahara in a British landscape.
My research questions are: 1. How can alienation translate into my paintings based on exploring my urban journeys such as the structure of crowds which contain collective forms of alienation? 2. How is the contemporary transcultural in urban spaces explored aesthetically in contemporary painting including my own art practice?
The theories of alienation spearheaded by Karl Marx are relevant to my work e.g. showing individuals separate from others in commuter crowds. I paint spaces of temporary transit such as railway stations, with crowds forming specific structures, seemingly an angry swarm or an orderly parade.
In Other Home 2021, I present a woman of South Asian descent wearing a sari against a backdrop of curtains, and filtered in blues, bringing together elements from different cultures. Are the crowd, woman and child viewed as the ‘other’, or not, depending on the viewer? They could be perceived as separate from the crowd because of their positioning. The two identities I have of my South Asian and British heritage blend with each other, causing a heterotopia of non-physical spaces.
Lockdown 2020 shows a self-portrait with my face half submerged in shadow, in brown and white, alluding to my mixed South Asian heritage, with an interior scene in the background. My face has a neutral expression – it seems neither sad or happy. This painting reflects my personal alienation during lockdown. The result of lockdown has had a positive effect for creating more potential for my research.
I have secured funding from the Slade Teaching Committee to develop a project: Interworlds: Transcultural Hybridity in Art. The project will explore the transcultural in art, through inviting external speakers, Slade students and staff and others to contribute to activities including on-line talk series/ panel discussions, (FTF) exhibition, with a long-term aim of a symposium, data/archive, and publication.
It develops from dialogues on decolonization in the arts at the Slade, University of the Arts London, British Art Network, Asia Triennial Manchester, including my recent contribution to a symposium organised by the Race and Racialisation Phd Group at the Sarah Parker Remond Centre, UCL, on the study of racism and racialisation. The project will involve 3 talks and engagement with students, centred on leading contributions by Alnoor Mitha, Research Fellow in South Asian Cultures at MMU and Director of Asia Triennial Manchester. The project will increase knowledge of the transcultural across the Slade, contribute to decolonizing the curriculum, enhance social cohesion within UCL, and continuing collaboration with the Sarah Parker Remond Centre forge new links and further links with external organisations and individuals including Asia Triennial Manchester and British Art Network.
In the last academic year I exhibited my paintings at Iso-lated Contact at the Art Contact Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair 2021, ‘Home and Unhome’ at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chongqing, China, 2020 ‘Liv-ing in Contrast’ at the Art Ankara Contemporary Art Fair, Turkey 2020.
I received an award for Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice, 2021. As part of this award I delivered a talk on my work followed by an in conversation with Professor Sarah Perks based at MIMA, Middlesborough and emerging curator Amani Mitha studying at the Royal College of Art, London, August 2021. I also delivered a talk on my art practice for the Black British Art Network, July 2021.