Manish Nai is interested in discovering the abstract dimensions of form through the manipulation of matter, exploring the new life assumed by the cast-offs that change from objects of use—jute, cardboard, newspapers, old cloths—to art objects, divested from any function or utility. This conversation uncovers the multitude of representations and associations of indigo seen in Nai’s work. Featured in Trees of Life – Knowledge in Material is his installation of 99 pieces of compressed indigo jute cloths.
Manish Nai (India) concentrates on the material qualities of the various substances he utilises in his work. His interest is in the discovery of abstract forms through the physical manipulation of matter, and the new life assumed by cast-offs when transformed from objects of use to objects of art. Using the colour indigo (indigo dye), itself loaded with a multitude of representations and associations, this opens up the visual form to subjectivities in the interpretation of the medium throughout time. Nai’s work was included in A beast, a god, and a line, curated by Cosmin Costinas, which debuted during the Dhaka Art Summit 2018 and subsequently travelled to Para Site, Hong Kong (2018). In 2017, the Fondation Fernet Branca in St. Louis, France, presented a comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s paintings, murals, sculptures, and photographs. The exhibition will travel to the Het Noordbrabants Museum in The Netherlands. Other group exhibitions include Asymmetrical Objects, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai (2018); the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014), and the Shanghai Biennale (2012). He has newly completed an 18-metre-long sculpture as a permanent installation in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex. His works are on view at the Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, Rajasthan, India (2017–18), and at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago as part of its permanent collection.
Dr June Yap (Singapore) is the Director of Curatorial, Programmes and Publications at the Singapore Art Museum. She was formerly Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator (South and Southeast Asia), Deputy Director and Curator of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, and curating independently. Yap curated No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia(2013) as part of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative; and the Singapore pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), featuring The Cloud of Unknowing by Ho Tzu Nyen. Yap received her MA in Fine Art at the University of Melbourne and her PhD in Cultural Studies at National University Singapore. She is the author of Retrospective: A Historiographical Aesthetic in Contemporary Singapore and Malaysia (2016).
Image credit: Manish Nai, Untitled, 2018, compressed indigo jute cloths and wood. Courtesy the artist.