Following her presence at the 55th Venice Biennale, Pace London
presents an exhibition of recent work by Prabhavathi Meppayil from 26 June to 2 August 2014 at 6-10 Lexington Street. nine seven- teen is Meppayils first exhibition in the UK, and first with Pace.
Born and raised in Bangalore, India, where she continues to work, Meppayilthe descendant of several generations of gold- smithsrevisits the motifs and problematics of Modernism and Minimalism via Indian artisanal practices and techniques. Her untitled paintings feature copper and gold wires embedded in heavily gessoed surfaces, and fields of marks left with goldsmiths tools, most notably the thinnam, traditionally used to incise ornamental patterns in bangles.
In rich dialogue with Paces 54-year celebration of postwar abstraction, Meppayils subtle play of luminous lines and almost imperceptible indentations call to mind the pared-down visual language of Agnes Martin. Her reinterpretation of such minimalist trademarks as the grid and serial repetition also recall Sol LeWitt, whilst her dedication to surface and pure monochromy evoke Robert Ryman. Meppayils work however retains small flaws and the unmistakable traces of the artists hand, inflecting minimalist formulas with a profoundly sensual and transcendent dimension, specific to her setting and artisanal methods.
My practice is about process and material. My engagement with the medium is about exploring a new relationship with traditional materials. A finely prepared gesso panel is almost like an object, the ambiguity between a surface and an object is interesting. I draw on the panel with delicate copper wire, by heating, stretching and embedding on the panel; make marks by tapping with my fathers goldsmith tools. The entire process for me is not just about drawing, it is as much about making; making things. Prabhavathi Meppayil, May 2014.
Meppayil rose to international prominence in 2013 as one of the stand-outs of Massimiliano Gionis The Encyclopedic Palace at the Venice Biennale, which enshrined outsider artists and reconnected contemporary creativity to time-honoured and painstaking manual labor. Little known outside of India until recently, her paintings put a subtly evocative emphasis on materials, work implements and artistic process. Meppayils works suggest that through meditative repetition, tradition remains in motion, guided equally by the history of craft and the hands through which it passes. Sam Korman, La Biennale di Venezia, 2013.
nine seventeen is accompanied by a catalogue which features texts by Dr. Peter Miller, whose shared enthusiasm for Meppayils work brought the exhibition to the American Academy in Rome; historian and critic, Deepak Ananth, a specialist on contemporary Indian art; and Harvard professor and Art Historian Dr. Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, whose original essay stations Prabhavathis work amongst the greats.
Prabhavathi Meppayil was born in 1965 in Bangalore, India. From 1986 to 1992 she studied at the Bangalore University and Ken School of Art in Bangalore. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Chitra Art Gallery, Bangalore (2001), Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai (2007), Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2010), Galleryske, Bangalore (2013-2014). Group exhibitions include: The Ency- clopedic Palace, 55th Venice Biennale, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Venice (1 June - 24 Novem- ber 2013); The American Academy in Rome (2014); everything/nothing, presented at GALLERYSKE, Bangalore (2012); Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past, curated by Mami Kataoka and Allison Harding (2012); Shadow Lines-Biennale Jogja XI 2011-Equator #1:Indonesia meets India, Indonesia (2011); Orientations: trajectories in Indian Art, curated by Deepak Ananth, Foundation De 11 Lijnen, Belgium (2010); Chalo! India-A New Era of Indian Art, presented at the Essl Museum, Vienna (2009), and at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (2009), earlier on present- ed at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, curated by Akiko Miki, Japan (2008), Horn Please, Narratives in Contemporary Indian Art, Kunstmuseum Bern, curated by Bernard Fibicher and Suman Gopinath, Switzerland (2007) etc.