Work by The Singh Twins will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery
for the first time in March. The twin sisters are contemporary British artists whose award-winning paintings explore issues of social, political, religious and multicultural debate. The display will offer a contemporary response to the concurrent exhibition, The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, and The Singh Twins have created a new Gallery trail to draw links between their work, The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, and the Gallery's permanent Collection.
Using a narrative, decorative, symbolic and witty 'Past Modern' (as opposed to Post Modern) style, The Singh Twins have revived the Indian miniature tradition within modern art practice. They say: 'Our work bridges many worlds, the ancient and the modern; fusing both Western and Eastern aesthetic elements ... using an ancient art form to deal with contemporary issues. Our aim is to introduce wider audiences to the beauty, richness and continuing value of our heritage within contemporary art and society.'
Twenty-seven works will be on display including Arts Matters: The Pool of Life (2008) which was commissioned by Liverpool City Council and celebrates the city's status as European Capital of Culture in 2008; Partners in Crime: Deception and Lies (2004), featuring George W. Bush and Tony Blair following the invasion of Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11; and The Greatest (2002) depicting Muhammad Ali in the conventional style used for depicting royalty within the Mughal School of the Indian miniature tradition. Also on display will be the award winning The Making of Liverpool, The Singh Twins' first animated film, which combines the Indian miniature tradition with the latest digital technology to show the history and changing identity of the city.
The new Gallery trail by The Singh Twins will link their work with The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, and the Gallery's permanent Collection. The trail will highlight how The Singh Twins are influenced by both Indian and Western portraiture in terms of themes, art practice, technique, pose and gesture, iconography and symbolism. The Singh Twins say: 'one of our main aims as artists to challenge generally accepted notions of heritage and identity. In particular, what we believe to be the generally held but false perceptions of division between east and west, modernity and tradition in art and society'.
London born twin sisters Amrit and Rabindra studied Art at University College of Chester (now called University of Chester) and Manchester University. Their work has been the subject of nearly forty solo exhibitions, including those at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, Birmingham City Art Gallery, Leeds City Art Gallery, The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and the National Gallery of Modern Art in both Delhi and Mumbai. The Singh Twins were artists in residence for the Commonwealth Games 2002 and their work has been published in nine books including Twin Perspectives, Worlds A-Part and the Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History.
Contemporary Connections: The Singh Twins will offer a contemporary response to the major exhibition The Indian Portrait: 1560-1860 (11 March - 20 June 2010), the first ever exhibition devoted to Indian portraiture which will include 60 outstanding portraits drawn from collections in the UK, USA and Europe. The exhibition sets out to show that Indian portraiture, an area of artistic achievement overlooked in Britain, should be seen alongside other outstanding portraits from around the world.