Faye Fleming and Partner are proud to present an exhibition of 7 emerging artists from India and Pakistan, juxtaposed with the work of an internationally recognised artist from an earlier generation, Nalini Malani. The exhibition is timed to coincide with Malani’s solo retrospective at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, and will explore several of the central themes of her work – themes that retain a vital currency in the work of artists from the generation born in the 1960s and 1970s.
Contemporary artists from India and Pakistan are an increasingly important presence on the international art scene, with important survey shows in public and private institutions such as Horn Please at the Kunstmuseum in Bern (2007-2008), Indian Highway at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2008-2009), The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today at the Saatchi Gallery, London (2010), or Paris, Delhi, Bombay at the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2010 upcoming).
On June 3 1947 the resolution accepting the Partition of India and creating a separate majority muslim Pakistan was passed. This was a move supported by Nehru and Patel and the British Governer-General Lord Mountbatten, but not by Gandhi. The title of this exhibition quotes the response of Gandhi to Mountbatten when he visited him on the day of the vote for Partition during which Gandhi controversially observed his day of silence. Mountbatten said that he hoped Gandhi would not oppose the Partition and Gandhi wrote his reply on a scrap of paper: "Have I ever opposed you?". The riots that escalated after Independence brought about the biggest transfer of populations in recorded history. An estimated million people were slaughtered in the riots while the police and army stood aside. Over ten million were rendered homeless as they fled their homes to become refugees. It is estimated that over one hundred thousand women from both sides of the border were forcibly abducted and raped. Gandhi’s plans to gather 50 Punjabi refugee families from a Delhi refugee camp to travel to and settle in Lahore, with the hope to retroactively create peace and harmony between India and Pakistan never came to fruition. Gandhi was assassinated on February 14, 1948, a fortnight before he planned to start the journey.
Relations between India and Pakistan are constantly fraught with intense tension – an ever present nuclear threat, the increasing power of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and the violence spilling over the border as happened in the 2008 Mumbai attacks – events which have affected many artists.
The inclusion of artists from both India and Pakistan attempts to reflect the impossibility of viewing contemporary art developments in either country in isolation – the visual heterogeneity of India itself, a vast and sweeping country – makes any reduction towards a national common denominator impossible. The shared history of India and Pakistan, tragic and violent in political and human terms, is also a shared history of visual culture. Artists in both countries often reference aspects of the tradition of Persian and Mughal miniature painting and this source of reference and inspiration is clear in the work of C.K. Rajan, Kanishka Raja, Ambreen Butt and Waseem Ahmed.
The selection of works for this exhibition does not have the ambition of representing all the most significant Pakistani and Indian emerging artists. The dialogue we would like to set between Malani’s work and this group of next generation emerging artists from India and Pakistan aims to draw out the issues of displacement, confrontation and opposition, both in terms of politics and sexuality, that face South Asia (and the world at large) with ever-increasing urgency.