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Multitalented and dimensional in her being and practice, Maya Varadaraj stands out in her narration of stories and experiences of South Asian women in her art. 

Artist Maya Varadaraj’s figurative paintings tap into her experiences as a South Asian woman brought up in a Hindu family, and how various biologies, societies, histories, and families inform womanhood. 

In her photorealistic paintings, presented by Mind Set Art Center (Taipei), Marina Cruz painstakingly reproduces pieces of vintage clothing owned by members of her family. 

When it comes to fine art, Pakistan has a lot of creatives whose work pushes on the boundaries of our industry, nationally and internationally!

Conflating the mortal and the eternal, the sculptor has laid out the South Asian woman’s everyday unspoken war.

From pioneering modernists to wildly innovative contemporary artists, we explore 10 essential textile artists who have been weaving wonders in cloth from India and South Asia. 

Each week, we search for the most exciting and thought-provoking shows, screenings, and events, both digitally and in-person in the New York area. See our picks from around the world.

One of the Off-Site programs is at Pier 64, where the artist Katja Larsson will present “New Neo Classics,” a series of sculptures that imbue everyday objects like a crumpled baseball cap with an aura of antiquity reminiscent of the ancient Egyptian fragmented statues found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It may be best to begin with a memory. A figure of marbled flesh stands atop a plinth, through the folds of a robe one can discern the silhouette of legs, and beneath a draped foot the name “Venus” is emblazoned darkly. 

Finding the setting of the production for any object is an essential process for many people. That ‘made in’ piece of information printed on the item can start investigations that trace the history, manufacturing processes and, perhaps, even the geographical routing of the object. 

Affan Baghpati’s art pieces are always intriguing enough to want me gaze them for a while to comprehend the dark humour that lies within each joint and assemblage. 

What’s this bright, orangey-red, extruded-plastic bull doing here among the stone Buddhas and bronze Vishnus? The curators were hoping you’d ask.

Young, Karachi-based artist Affan Baghpati’s debut solo show in New York is a commentary and dismantling of established narratives and histories through found objects that have been meticulously and thoughtfully molded and re-formed into unique designs.

There can be many definitions of creativity, but the simplest one is: to join two different entities and get something new. We are all born through such a procedure and we employ the same formula to fabricate our artworks. 

The present times demand that the English word ‘security’ be replaced by ‘insecurity’, especially in a Pakistani context. Irrespective of whether you are in a privileged sector or a low-income locality, you are sure to come across houses with an extraordinary architectural feature: security. 

A wall of soft words. Bangla script as sculpture, with pillow-like volume and skin of shimmering sari fabric. The formal beauty of written Bangla catches the eye of the uninitiated. 

Najmun Nahar Keya's artistic journey began in Old Dhaka, where she grew up in the midst of beautiful architectural wonders and a family that encouraged her creative aspirations.

Happening now at the newly opened DrikPath Bhobon at Panthapath, "Chobi Mela Shunno'' has successfully created a space for artists, thinkers, activists, and visionaries in self-reflective, experimental processes. 

Decorated with murals of children at play and sailing boats, the schoolyard feels peaceful. The tree trunks that surge out of the dusty ground look as if they have been there for centuries. 

Hard stops force us to re-evaluate our thoughts. An immediate danger to our survival like COVID-19 pandemic creates a harder stop to our day-to-day lives than a slow destroyer like climate change. It makes us think – what have we done wrong?

The worst might be arguably over in New York, with the number of coronavirus cases dipping, but artist Avishek Sen is warning New Yorkers and the world how man’s relentless desire to dominate nature has led to a disturbing imbalance.

In artist Avishek Sen’s work, humans, animals and vegetation are often fused by a unique alchemy. A figure with a lion’s head and ripped male torso poses in front of a bathtub, out of which an oversized dissected fruit and a tiger-riding deity peek out.

‘It’s about time we started exploring this region,’ says Hong Kong-based collector Patrick Sun about his recent acquisitions from India. Sun is among many international collectors, dealers and museums who are now turning their gaze to South Asia. 

 

Aicon Contemporary situated in New York is closed until the threat of the pandemic reduces. Rather than sitting and contemplating the downside of the situation, the gallery wanted the world to see the spectacular painting hanging on their walls. 

Like every year, we went to this year’s edition of India Art Fair at the NSIC exhibition ground in the capital. And like every year, the art on display had us gawking, some in confusion, others in appreciation. Here are our 10 picks from India Art Fair 2020.

Before there were gods there was magic. Folks could work directly with nature, perform rituals and nature would respond to their will. When magic failed often enough to engender doubt, the gods were discovered. 

Najmun Nahar Keya spent five years in Tokyo, on the prestigious Monbukagakusho Japanese government scholarship, awarded to one emerging Bangladeshi artist every year. These five years have had a disproportionately high impact on her art, and on her person. 

Artists and Activists See Tighter Controls on Expression in Pakistan
Artists and Activists See Tighter Controls on Expression in Pakistan
The Wall Street Journal November 2019

No sooner had Pakistani artist Adeela Suleman’s exhibit opened at the Karachi Biennale last week than she had an encounter that artists, writers, journalists and activists say has become common under the current government: It was shut down.

 

On October 2, 2019—the 150th anniversary of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s birth—the Kolkata-based sculptor Debanjan Roy transformed this space into a veritable Madame Tussauds dedicated solely to the shiny celebrity of the Mahatma, “the great soul.”

In October 1939, about a decade before he was assassinated, Mohandas K. Gandhi issued a warning to his admirers. “Some would like to erect my statue in public places, some others would have my portraits, yet others would proclaim my birthday as a public holiday,” he wrote in response to praises he had received on his birthday. 

Two exhibitions to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in Washington, DC, and New York, on October 2, 2019, explored not only the life of Bapu – as he is fondly called, but also the complexities and divergent viewpoints that has emanated over the ages in the role he has played in shaping societies globally.

 

“Unfortunately, in India today, we don’t think enough about Gandhi. We should think of Gandhi every day because he had so much to say about quotidian life,” says Nalini Malani. The artist has turned to Gandhi on numerous occasions. 

In his latest paintings, Salman Toor meditates on his life as a gay artist who divides his time between two diametrically opposite communities: New York, where he can live and love openly, and his hometown of Lahore, Pakistan, where the dictates of family and religion demand that he suppress his identity.

New York-based artist Salman Toor’s brushstrokes place young queer brown men in scenes of love, friendship, and solitude in his luscious oil paintings. In Time After Time, his ongoing exhibition at Aicon Gallery in Manhattan, he challenges the systematic exclusion of queer men of color from art history.

New York city’s Aicon Gallery exhibits works of fifteen contemporary Pakistani artists, inspiring its title “Sweeping Back the Sea” from video works of artists Omer Wasim and Saira Sheikh, the latter who passed away in 2017.

I first saw Adeela Suleman’s work during a visit to her studio as a fine arts undergraduate student at the Indus Valley School, Karachi—a department she now runs. At the time, she was designing ornate armor for women. 

In the cacophony of the India Art Fair, it is easy to miss work that is not very large in scale or subtle in its approach, but at the artist collective, Britto Arts Trust which is showcasing artwork from Bangladesh, one could not but notice the poetic and poignant work of artist Promotesh Das Pulak.

To portray power is not merely to witness its existence but also to deconstruct it in such a way as to unveil its hidden mechanisms, and critique its apparent form. Artistic treatments of economic themes inherently question settled understandings, and many contest things as they are.

The array of media in this exhibition was rather startling: two videos and a photograph, all rather large (each took up a wall of its own); sculptures of bronze and plastic, or bronze alone, most small, often serially arranged; and works on paper, variously sized, sometimes watercolors, sometimes subtly mixing watercolor and automotive paint. 

Starting from the fragile and complex socio-political relationship between India and Pakistan in the era of contemporary warfare, I don’t want to be there when it happens investigates, in a broader sense, the psychology of trauma.

Show featuring artists from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh explores what it’s like to try and create beauty amid the violent feedback loop of external events.

Not a rock music inspired art show, Guns & Roses is the result of an international collaboration between Mumbai-based art gallery, Chatterjee & Lal, and New York-based Aicon Gallery. 

 

Abdullah M. I. Syed is a Western Sydney based Pakistani born artist and designer who sees art as a balancing act of archiving and re-articulating forms of memory, myth, tradition and belonging.

Known for his gritty, pain-inflicting endurance performances, Syed transformed the rose, a desirable cultural and spiritual material symbolizing love, purity, soul, and melancholia in South Asian cultures, into a bloody pulp to bring attention to the deteriorating conditions of life in the Islamic world as a result of internal and external bloody conflicts. 

Buildings can seem tedious and boring, especially in their repetition in a city like New York. But they are an enduring sign of our species’ survivability and perseverance. It was only 12,000 years ago (in an approximate 200,000-year continuum of existing as human beings in our current forms) that the Neolithic Revolution took place and we transitioned from hunting and gathering to become farmers, create settlements, and domesticate our helper animals.

The City of Parramatta, a quick express train ride away from Sydney’s central business district, is regarded as a culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse hub within Western Sydney. 

 

Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize 

Talk about urbanization to any Indian artist and they will probably get their hackles up. Rapid expansion and accommodation for India’s growing merchant and professional class has led to the wonton demolition of old buildings and historical architecture.

Gigi Scaria | All About This Side
Gigi Scaria | All About This Side
Blouin ArtInfo Preview August 2017

The exhibition titled “All About This Side” featuring the works of New-Delhi based artist Gigi Scaria is on view at Aicon Gallery, New York. The exhibition deals with the themes of migration and displacement.

 

New Delhi-based Gigi Scaria’s All About This Side will be the artist’s first major US solo exhibition debuting at Aicon Gallery, New York. All About This Side is a culmination of a series of intense investigations that brings into sharp relief the “dealing with urban topographies”: modern city structures and the intended and unintended consequences for the people who live amongst them.

Engagement with the environment, urbanisation and migration have dominated Scaria's work for over two decades now, ever since he moved to Delhi from his hometown Kothanalloor, a village in Kerala. With layered works that address the past, present and the distant future, Scaria has consistently reflected on the complexities that we live with.

Written by Mukul Rai Bahadur 

The Artist/Knight is an exhibition with and about artists imbued with the spirit of chivalry and who bring the knight to life in countless incarnations, ranging from gentle irony to unbounded passion.

There is a scene in Peter Greenway’s movie, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, where the angry husband, a master chef, serves the dead body of his wife’s lover, cooked and garnished with vegetable and herbs. Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes a similar situation in his novel The Autumn of the Patriarch when the military dictator forces his cabinet ministers to eat the baked body of his opponent who in the past was his close confidant but betrayed him.

From 1983 to 2009, a grisly civil war gripped the island nation of Sri Lanka. In the aftermath, 13 artists unpacked the trauma of war as part of the group exhibition “Portraits of Intervention” at Aicon Gallery in New York. Curator Bansie Vasvani said she was drawn to the organic quality of these artists’ responses to the bloodshed, as well as the variation in form found in those reactions.

Recognizing Asia’s rich cultural and artistic legacy, and a rising global focus on Asian contemporary art, the Asia Society India Centre and Asia Society Museum present the first Asia Arts Awards in India.

It is their distanced view of home and their shared struggles and romances in New York that brought Pakistani poet Hasan Mujtaba and artist Salman Toor together for this collaboration. 

Flying Buck Exchange is a special presentation of an ongoing ‘Bucking’ performance project by Pakistani-Australian artist Abdullah M.I. Syed. Showcased over three days at MPavilion as part of the inaugural Asia TOPA, Syed’s tongue-in-cheek turn of phrase, Bucking, will see him consuming, distributing and exchanging currency, in this case, in the form of the fabled US dollar bills.

The ongoing intriguing group show titled Delicate Bond of Steel is a result of the unique exchange between Chatterjee & Lal in Mumbai and Aicon Gallery in New York. The latter’s first gallery show in the country, hosted by the South Mumbai exhibition space, features works of several South Asian artists based out of Australia, the U.S., Bangladesh and India.

With only 35 galleries exhibiting at this year’s edition – five fewer than last year’s – Abu Dhabi Art is smaller than most in the world, but the quality of the art has not been compromised. 

In June 2008, contemporary artist Nikhil Chopra took on the garb of Sir Raja, a fictional character and landscape painter, and traversed the streets, parks and subways of Manhattan and Brooklyn in a personal attempt to map the city.

The year 1947 marked the independence from British rule for India, Pakistan and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). However, independence came at the cost of the partition of nations that shared a common history and culture.

In the long slow heat of a Lahore afternoon, when the day’s work has been done, women sit and sew. Anila Quayyum Agha also learned to sew, and this maternal gift has today been enshrined by her mother’s recent passing and an expansion in the artist’s practice.

Pakistan has once again made headlines in New York City, but this time it’s for a good reason. Go Figureis a group show of young aspiring artists from Pakistan, showcased at Aicon Art Gallery in the East Village area of the city.

Abdullah M.I. Syed Exhibition at Fairfield City Museum & Gallery Sydney

Pakistani artist Adeel uz Zafar skillfully blends the pleasant and the unpleasant memories we all associate with childhood. Originally a children’s book illustrator, his work derives its imagery from a collective international pop culture, but the playful cartoon characters he depicts appear in a damaged, far scarier form than we are used to seeing them.

Adeel Uz Zafar | Monomania
Adeel Uz Zafar | Monomania
Dawn Review January 2016

Recently, Aicon Gallery in New York exhibited Monomania — the first solo US exhibition of Karachibased artist Adeel uz Zafar. The title of the exhibition summed up the themes that the works encapsulate.

Salman Toor’s (b. 1983) works have ranged from meticulously executed 17th century-style genre painting to abstracted figuration employing design elements and visual language from both Eastern and Western pop culture. Toor’s work deals with the issue of identity

Salman Toor is the best kind of contemporary painter: funny, insightful, and not afraid to get personal. His colorful, figurative images are both intimate and relatable, featuring crowds of people engaging in romantic or imaginative adventures, filled with references to the artist’s many travels and international background.

Salman Toor’s insular scenes of life in Pakistan have vanished. Instead ghosts, hobos, poets, exiles, counts, ascetics, rabble-rousers, vagrants, and partygoers inhabit a no-man’sland where time stands still.

Salman Toor at Asian Contemporary Arts Week 

Salman Toor was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and lives and works in New York City. Toor’s paintings vary in scale and style. His subjects range from autobiographical constructs to Art History and Pop Culture. 

A Brooklyn- and Lahore-based Pakistani artist, Salman Toor returns to Aicon Gallery for his second solo show with 20 new paintings, both large-scale and small.

Aicon Gallery, New York proudly presents Husain at Hundred, an extensive retrospective of India’s most iconic Modern painter, M. F. Husain, in honor of what would be the artist’s 100th birthday this year, featuring landmark masterworks on canvas from every decade of Husain’s career.

A mini-retrospective of M.F. Husain — the celebrated and colorfully controversial Indian painter who died in London in 2011, at the age of 95 — runs through October 24 at Aicon Gallery in NoHo. 

The exhibition traces the growth and advancement of the artist’s unique figurative style, as well as his pioneering and ever-evolved merging of Western Modernist techniques with themes from India’s epic historical and mythological texts, along with its ongoing struggle for an independent modern identity and stability in a post-colonial world, according to a press release.

For the cognoscenti, the Lower Manhattan intersection of Great Jones Street and Bowery is hallowed ground. In 1983, Andy Warhol rented a loft space at 57 Great Jones to the HaitianPuerto Rican pop artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose short career would take him from spraypainting subway cars to being canonized for artwork like “Irony Of Negro Policeman”.

Drawing a fine line between voyeurism and vigilance, Indian artist Abir Karmakar’s second solo exhibition “Uncanny Space” at Aicon Gallery continues with his preoccupation of seducing viewers to become surreptitious onlookers of his painted private spaces. 

Since 2007 Abir Karmakar has been painting pictures of his bedroom, and sometimes also the small bathroom adjoining it, both probably in the apartment in which he lives. In the first of the thirteen works that constitute the provocative series he calls In The Old Fashioned Way, 2007 he stands in his bedroom, completely naked, and facing away from us, so that his buttocks are in our face, as though inviting us to copulate with him. 

The term monomania can be deĮned as “an excessive interest or enthusiasm for a single thing or idea; obsession.” In thissense, the term relatesto the work of Adeel uz Zafar both in terms of his consistently recurring subject maƩer (children’s toys eerily wrapped in gauze or bandages) and his now-signature reducƟve technique of scraping away at a black latex surface line by line to give rise to seemingly three-dimensional Įgures.

Aicon Gallery, New York has organized a month-long (April 22-May 21) solo exhibition titled “Betrayal of Innocence and Beauty” by promising Bangladeshi artist Promotesh Das Pulak. This is Pulak's first solo exhibition in USA. 

Art Dubai’s ninth edition confirms its grasp of the global game it set out to play. Along with well-established international players, including those from the Middle East and South Asia, the galleries participating in this year’s Modern and Contemporary section alone covered regions as diverse as Africa, Eastern Europe and Australia. Being a global player today no longer means ticking off all the countries on the world map. 

“You must not scorn geography — perhaps it’s not less important than psychology” — Jorge Luis Borges The ninth edition of Art Dubai held from March 17-21, 2015 was both different than and similar to other such events held there in the past. 

After Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid posted a picture of this beautiful work on social media, it quickly became the fair’s most photographed piece of art. 

If music could take on colour and shape, the results would be strikingly similar to the group exhibit titled ‘Eat Pray Thug’, curated by American artist and former member of the now-defunct American alt-rap trio Das Racist, Himanshu Suri. 

You probably remember Himanshu Suri, a.k.a. “Heems,” as half of Das Racist, the New York rap group who hit the Internet running with their single “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” in 2008. 

Himanshu “Heems” Suri, who goes by moniker Deepak Choppa these days, is celebrating his first solo album since his rap group Das Racist disbanded in 2012. He kicked things off with an exhibit at New York’s Aicon Gallery titled “Eat Pray Thug” after Suri’s upcoming album of the same name. 

Art Radar catches up with 6 international galleries participating in the first art fairs of the 2015 fair season in Asia. The art fair season in Asia ushers in a new exciting year for contemporary art, starting with Art Stage Singapore and the India Art Fair taking place back-to-back during the last week of January 2015.

WITH CROSS-CULTURAL COLLABORATION AS ITS CORE, SEMBLANCE OF ORDER IS A TRAVELLING EXHIBITION PROMOTING AUSTRALIAN AND PAKISTANI ART AND ARTISTS ACROSS BORDERS AND PLATFORMS. IT IS THE RESULT OF AN INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS’ RESIDENCY PROGRAM DELIVERED IN PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PARRAMATTA ARTISTS STUDIOS AND CICADA PRESS, COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS, UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES, SYDNEY AUSTRALIA. 

Semblance of Order, curated by Abdullah M.I. Syed, was a Printmaking travel exhibition that grew from an International Residency for Pakistani and Australian Artists. Koel Gallery (Karachi, Pakistan), Parramatta Artists Studios (Sydney, Australia) and Aicon Gallery (New York, USA) were hosts to the travel show.

In the beginning was love. In the end is Ma. We are told that at midnight during a lunar eclipse twelve newlyweds and a priestess gather in a circle after a mass wedding to talk. Rati Chakravyuh is an unfolding of their conversation spanning the history of the universe as we orbit them. 

Aicon Gallery in downtown Manhattan currently has an excellent exhibition up, Readymade: Contemporary Art from Bangladesh. It’s the obscure object of my art desire: a summer show offering a take on materials and craft that ranges from the familiar to the utopian-exotic. 

Art Radar profiles 9 exciting artists from Bangladesh. Aicon Gallery presents the first ever extensive survey of contemporary Bangladeshi art to be held in New York. Art Radar looks more closely at the nine artists in the exhibition.

Genocide as an endemic part of Bangladesh history is the subject of Wakilur Rahman’s large ink on paper triptych, Genocide (2009). Uneven blotches of shaded black ink are interspersed with small white patches, making abstraction a powerful tool to pay homage to scores of forgotten people reduced to mere specks of memory. 

In the current century the complex relationship between creative practice and political activism has gained new critical relevance. Closer to home, artists are responding to the ongoing turmoil and destruction by engaging with strategies of resistance against conformist reason, often registering dissent through dark comedy. 

When Adeela Suleman’s work was included in Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan at the Asia Society, New York, in 2009, her curiously inventive use of ready-mades consisting mainly of cooking utensils and household objects to make helmets, skeletal formations, and sculptures inspired intrigue and wonder about her practice.

Aicon Gallery is currently showcasing Tempered Branches, a solo exhibition of new works by G. R. Iranna. The work continues to build upon Iranna’s career-spanning investigation into how social frameworks and religious dogmas, traditionally viewed as net-cultural positives, either directly or indirectly serve to suppress freethought and organic growth, often with complex and disastrous consequences. 

Aicon Gallery is presenting The Altar of Convenience, an exhibition of new sculpture by Debanjan Roy. The exhibition, on view through February 1, 2014, is comprised of more than twenty masterfully hand-carved wooden sculptures of oversized everyday objects, all of which will inevitably find themselves consigned to the trash-heap of modern living. 

Aicon Gallery is presenting The Altar of Convenience, an exhibition of new sculpture by Debanjan Roy. The exhibition, on view through February 1, 2014, is comprised of more than twenty masterfully hand-carved wooden sculptures of oversized everyday objects, all of which will inevitably find themselves consigned to the trash-heap of modern living.

Stamped with a provocative title ‘Brut-Nama’ (The Chronicles of Brut) currently showing at Aicon Gallery, New York, is the first major US solo of Karachi and Sydney-based artist Abdullah M. I. Syed. 

Brut-Nama represents the culmination of ten years of research born from Syed’s award-winning installation, Discourse within Discourse: The Circle at the IAO Gallery in Oklahoma City (2003) and developed over the past decade through a series of international solo and group exhibitions while living, working and studying between Karachi and Sydney. 

In 1964, Faberge launched Brut for Men, their now immensely popular fragrance, in an attempt to create a new male market within the traditionally feminine realm of perfumes. 

Aicon Gallery is proud to present Brut-Nama: The Chronicles of Brut, the first major U. S. solo exhibition by Australia-based Pakistani artist Abdullah M I Syed. 

Review of Adeela Suleman's works by Donald Kuspit