I See Myself In You : Curated By Jamila Adeli & Tanya Lakhani

Artists: Maha Ahmed, Edouard Baribeaud, Ian Davis, Jack Dunnett, Syeda Aatika Fatima, Prasad Kp

13th June – 31st July, 2024

Press Release

Curated by Jamila Adeli & Tanya Lakhani

Galerie ISA is proud to present I See Myself In You a show curated by Jamila Adeli and Tanya Lakhani, that brings together the work of six diverse global voices—- Maha Ahmed, Edouard Baribeaud, Ian Davis, Jack Dunnett, Syeda Aatika Fatima and Prasad KP.

Opening in June, this showcase is imbued with a spirit of multiculturalism in ideology and in technique. Through an anthropological framework these dynamic artists explore the spirit of humanity in a social and cultural milieu that is punctuated by crisis.

Miniaturist Maha Ahmed’s (b.1989) mythical and mythological works are a deep dive into the formation of a new identity; the shift that comes in after becoming a mother. Through the tradition of anthropomorphism (the attribution of human characteristics to inanimate and animate objects), Ahmed focuses on values of change and learning. The animals in her work, in this case appropriately the Tigress (a solitary animal, with the exception of a mother and her cubs) come from research on qualities that the artist feels she needs to embody or instill.

The tiger also appears in Edouard Baribeaud’s (b.1984 in Paris, France) practice. The artist layers techniques and themes in a cinematic way—mythology with mundane scenes, watercolor and gouache along with the poetic color blocks and scale of Indian miniatures (the 17th century artist Nainsukh is a perennial favorite)—to depict the world we live in. In ‘Kumbhalgarh’, named after the fort in Jaipur that Baribeaud and his wife visited, the artist creates a mesmerizing collage of varying motifs. A tiger swimming in the river in the foreground, brightly-hued details reminiscent of Indian miniatures in the background (in an almost Matisse-like fashion), all highlighted with ornamental vegetation. This collage- like work aims to showcase graphic realism along with the connectedness between the species of the natural world, underscoring the idea that humans are minute in the cosmos.

Continuing this excavation of man versus world, is artist Ian Davis (b.1972, Indianapolis, United States). Fascinated with the monotony of modern life, and the individual as a mere cog in the system, his works eschew a narrative, instead focusing on the repetitive patterns, rituals, and power struggles that ensure conformity in the dystopian landscape he creates. In his compositions, there’s an eerie disconnect between his subjects and the environment.

In Jack Dunnett’s (b.1995, Wick, Scotland) practice, archetypal characters and figures are deliberately at odds with their environment, depicting those moments when we feel physically engaged yet mentally distant or vice versa. In his works, the mundane is elevated, the tedious, almost transcendental. The artist admits an interest in people in everyday spaces, but also in depicting scenes of contrast and contradictions. Creating that cognitive dissonance while also focusing on empathy for shared experiences and an underlying human connectedness is at the crux of his work. Dunnet’s paintings are like an overhead story, open to personal interpretation, the vagaries of memory and an embellished re-telling. They work as an invitation (rather than a demand) to the viewer to observe, understand and experience.

Conversely, Syeda Aatika Fatima’s (b.1997) practice explores being observed and the ethical ambiguity that comes with surveillance and a right to privacy in this dynamic digital landscape. The starting point was Fatima’s own discomfort with the dissolving lines between public and private brought on by social media along with the realization that her feelings of vulnerability weren’t uniformly shared. Her works involve taking consented candid imagery of friends and family and creating collages; painting figures in multiple perspectives in situations where they are being stalked through windows as they go through their daily life. The futuristic, dystopian settings serve as a warning for unregulated technological advancements. Through these works (often miniatures in Gouache and Wasli) Fatima questions what it means to be a private individual in this day and age.

Looking at landscape paintings in a miniature scale through the lens of a changing time, is the thesis of Prasad KP’s (b.1982 in Kerala, India) practice. In showcasing the bucolic landscapes of his home-state in Kerala, the artist attempts to reinterpret how nature has been viewed historically versus the present day. His works are a play, a narration, an improvisation and an exploration on language, medium, scale and color to uncover the cultural richness of a value system that is fast vanishing as science and technology supersede ritual and tradition.

These six artists bring together seemingly divergent practices, a unique visual language and an underlying exploration of the shared human experience. With their depictions, they challenge the viewer to question commonly held belief systems, social structures, rituals, traditions and the impact of changing norms, both on an individual and a collective level.

Priyanka R Khanna