Batte Royale

Untitled 3 by Basist Kumar

Batte Royale

Nature Morte presents a group of excessively large works that communicate authority, power, and prestige. The paintings in the exhibition showcase wildly divergent styles: in the case of Nidhi Agarwal, cartoonish figuration is fused with aggressive abstraction; the landscapes of Basist Kumar are both ethereal and other-worldly; and Neeraj Patel has developed a style of abstraction that is sourced from the digital realm of computer coding. Included will be examples from Ayesha Singh’s series entitled “Skewed Histories,” these being re-imagined architectural fragments that reflect upon the effects of time and the mutability of history.

About the artists
Nidhi Agarwal (born 1972, Delhi) is a graduate of the College of Arts, Delhi. Agarwal’s solo exhibitions have been presented by Nature Morte, New Delhi (2022); Artist Center Gallery, Mumbai (2018); and Dhoomimal Gallery, New Delhi (2007). Her works have also been exhibited at institutions such as Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece (2019); Penza Museum, Penza, Russia (2018); and the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi (2018). She has been felicitated with the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant 2016–2017, New York and has undertaken residencies with the Art PARTage Residency and Workshop, Triangle Network, Mauritius in 2019 and the Draw International Residency, Caylus, France in 2018.

Known for her aggressive and hyper-chromatic paintings, Agarwal’s works veer away from pure abstraction to explore figuration, caricature, calligraphy, and vocabulary. What may at first appear to be purely chaos quickly becomes legible and the artist’s choices and control are evident. Agarwal’s canvases are large, imparting a physical, almost performative, sense to the works and as the artist is small in stature, it seems she must wrestle with the images they contain. Faces and figures appear and then fade away in a ballet in which no single element commands the center of attention. Her paint is thick and viscous, her colors often discordant, her linework a dangerous trap to become ensnared. This is painting which juggles pleasure with pain, beauty with horror. Agarwal continues to live and work in Delhi.

Batte Royale The Eclipse by Nidhi Agarwal

The Eclipse by Nidhi Agarwal

Ayesha Singh (born 1990, Delhi) completed her BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art in London and her MFA in Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her large-scale installation ‘Hybrid Drawings’ has been commissioned by the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai and is on view at the Art House as part of the exhibition Liminal Gaps, through June 9, 2024. Singh’s solo exhibition “Monumental Turns” was at Nature Morte, New Delhi in August/September 2023. Singh has exhibited her works in group shows at venues worldwide including Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria (2021); Palazzo Madama/Museo Civico d’Arte Antica, Turin, Italy (2021); Museum of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Chongqing, China (2018); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2017); Hyde Park Art Centre, Chicago (2017); University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK (2014); Dimensions Variable, Miami, USA (2022); Casa de Dona Gisele, Curitiba, Brazil (2015); and The Sculpture Park, Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur (2018-20). Singh was recently awarded the Van Gogh House Residency, London, UK (2022) and received the Emerging Artist of the Year award from India Today (2020). In addition, she has received the Ellies Creator Award from Oolite Arts (former Art Centre/South Florida) USA (2018-19); the Civil Society Institute Fellowship at Vermont Studio Centre, USA (2018); and the Science & Culture Initiative Grant from the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2017-18). Her work is a part of public collections including the Cincinnati Art Museum, USA; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK; Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bangalore; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and The Partition Museum, both in New Delhi.

The pieces from Singh’s series “Skewed Histories” (2023) are large-scale wooden sculptures which reinterpret the horse-shoe arch, referencing nostalgic familiarities specific to Delhi. Singh's practice involves subversive actions that highlight existing socio-political hierarchies and the assertion of established systems of power in architecture. Her research is contextualized within the continuities of colonial monuments and presence of contemporary empires, capitalist as well as political. Through critical spatial interventions that emphasize collaboration and coexistence, her works aim to counter established narratives to unpack layers of architectural decisions induced by the authority of states, and by the voluntary and involuntary displacement of people. Singh continues to live and work in New Delhi.

Batte Royale Skewed Histories by Ayesha Singh

Skewed Histories by Ayesha Singh

Basist Kumar (born 1984, Delhi) received his BFA in 2007 from the College of Art, Delhi University and his MFA in 2009 from the Vishwa-Bharati University, Santiniketan. Kumar has exhibited his work in solo exhibitions at Nature Morte, New Delhi (2022) and Davide Gallo Gallery, Berlin (2018). He has also exhibited works in group exhibitions at Nature Morte, New Delhi (2013); Maya Art Space, Kolkata (2016); Bose Pacia, Kolkata (2008); and Davide Gallo Gallery, Berlin (2009).

Having trained in the figurative school in India, a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture enabled him to study at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China for two years (2013–15). This had a profound influence on both his technique and style and he now paints landscapes, with usually just the slightest hint of a human presence. Kumar’s works are characterized by an overwhelming level of detail and atmospheric specificity, resulting in dream-like panoramas that verge upon the mythic. His works are almost containers of weather and light. There is the sense of something epic going on, as if from ancient myth, yet it can’t really be articulated. His painterly technique hits a level of verisimilitude that is buoyant, crystalline and bracing. Basist Kumar continues to live and work in Delhi.

Batte Royale In-between space III (being constructed and deconstructed) by Neeraj Patel

In-between space III (being constructed and deconstructed) by Neeraj Patel

Neeraj Patel (born 1987, Baroda) completed his BA from JNV University, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, in 2008 and his MA in Drawing & Painting from Mohan Lal Sukhadiya University, Udaipur, Rajasthan, in 2010. He has also completed an MFA in Art Design & Performance from Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. His most recent solo exhibition was at Nature Morte, New Delhi from December 2023 to February 2024. He has previously shown his work at EBC, Mexico City (2013); ART 507 Gallery, Seoul (2015); And.N Gallery, Seoul (2015); Shrine Empire, New Delhi (2019) and Bikaner House, New Delhi (2023).

Patel is a painter who explores multiple mediums in order to bring a diversity of approaches to his language. The large-scale paintings develop Patel’s particular style of abstraction that he has culled from a digital reality. The artist states that he is interested in the faults, glitches, and errors in the systems we interact with on a daily basis, and his paintings resemble computer coding or the sequencing of genetic material. This is a reality we know through science, hypothetical postulates which we have come to accept as the foundations of our world. While Patel’s paintings acknowledge their ancestry in the schools of geometric abstraction founded by Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian and the minimalism of Nasreen Mohammedi and Sol Lewitt, they are equally indebted to the interfaces and patterns we inhabit through our SmartPhones. There is a studied elegance to Patel’s paintings, his repetitive mark-making and precision engaging both a handmade and a machine-made approach. Patel lives and works in Baroda.

This exhibition will take place in Nature Morte’s Delhi gallery space till June 23rd.

Words Platform Desk
Date 15.05.2024