Aicon Gallery, New York’s premier gallery of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, is pleased to present Palimpsest. Drawing on the work of contemporary South Asian artists, this exhibition is arranged as a series of visual and narrative palimpsests depicting real or imagined traces of the past. Ideas of surface and depth, of secondary quotations and lost sources – of fleeting and hidden references, and of layering from a lost image are at the heart of this group exhibition.
A palimpsest is traditionally defined as an overwritten page – that is, it refers to the remnants of lost text as seen on re-used surfaces in books. As a term, literary and cultural theorists often use it to interpret narratives and imagery with an illusory textual presence. Post-colonialists often applied palimpsests as a concept to sort through layers of cultural experience, thus chronicling the ineradicable traces of history while acknowledging that, over time, traces shall remain in memory – or ultimately, be forgotten. The concept of a palimpsest is thus an invaluable tool to be used in extracting pre-colonial culture from colonialist accounts and sources, while also helping to define shifting landscapes in terms of social or geographical compositions.
Aicon Gallery’s group exhibition Palimpsest shall explore the lexicon of this concept through the work of a group of eight contemporary South Asian artists working in a variety of mediums. Palimpsest points to its own exploration via the cyclical actions of making, remaking, and erasing, all of which work to reveal trace elements retained either in memory or physical form. Capturing the conflicting interdependent forces of the palimpsest, are works such as Asma Mundrawal’s Is You or Is You Ain’t? (See Image 1), depicting an idealized, perhaps unattainable, scene of contemporary middle-class Pakistani family life in the form of a children’s pop-up book that can be collapsed into nothingness at any moment. Similarly, Jayashree Chakravarty’s intricately layered and reworked paintings (see image 2) address the concept of the palimpsest by drawing from both figurative and abstract motifs to present multiple narratives both building upon and at odds with one another . Other artists in the show include Vidya Kamat, Pooja Iranna, Avishek Sen, Riyas Komu, Puja Puri, Talha Rathore, & Nausheen Saeed.