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miniature rewind 1 20 - 23 March


miniature rewind 1 20 - 23 March

Art Dubai 2013 Booth J22 Madinat Jumeirah Dubai Contact Conor Macklin Charles Moore art@grosvenorgallery.com


Introduction Grosvenor Vadehra is proud to present the first in a series of exhibitions exploring the theme of contemporary miniature painting. ‘Miniature Rewind 1’ features the work of a number of contemporary artists from India, Iran and Pakistan, all of whom are either working in the miniature technique, or employ styles and themes usually observed in the discipline of miniature painting. For over 1000 years miniature painting has been of tremendous significance for those living in South Asia and Iran. The art form is part of their national identity, and has influenced artists for hundreds of years. Displayed alongside are works by artists whose pioneering work in the mid 20th century paved the way for the exploration of miniature tradition by contemporary artists. A common problem for many of these artists working in the 1950s and 60s was how to combine their countries indigenous artistic heritage with the contemporary styles and techniques emerging from the West.

This intriguing problem was approached in many different ways, however the aims of these artist’s were still clear; to create an contemporary artistic vernacular particular to their own country. In post Independence India artists were struggling to create works that broke free from colonial influence. The first group of artists to successfully do so were the members of the Bombay Progressive Artist’s Group, namely FN Souza, SH Raza and MF Husain. These artists came together to create works which rejected traditional techniques in favour of those finding prominence on the international stage. Raza and Souza left India in the late 1940s, however their desire to develop as artists whilst also representing their Indian roots never left them. An example of the combination of the ancient and the contemporary can be seen below. In Panth (below) Raza combined iconography typically seen in 18th century Rajasthani miniatures, with the stylistic influences of Colour-Field artists such as Mark Rothko. The result, a painting that is undoubtedly Indian, but with entirely contemporary references. It was the struggle to find a balance between heritage and modernity that would continue to impact the work of Indian artists throughout the late 20th century.


In Pakistan artists such as Abdur Rahman Chughtai and Sadequain were expressing their cultural heritage in very different ways to each other. Chughtai completely rejected Western Modernism, instead choosing to employ the technique of miniature painting, which during the mid 20th century was still considered a craft rather than an art form. His detailed watercolours and etchings depicting traditional figures from Indian folklore were inspired in part by Rabindranath Tagore’s Bengal School, whose artists assimilated Hindu mythology, Mughal painting and Japanese wash and printing techniques in their work in the early 20th century.

Sadequain’s work in the mid 20th century was by contrast completely removed from the miniature painting tradition. Sadequain’s time in Paris in the 1960s is widely regarded as the zenith of his career, and although influenced by the artists of the Ecole de Paris, who applied thick impasto to portray abstract expressionist subjects, his prickly staccato figures and landscapes were ultimately derived from calligraphic compositions.

Iranian modernism was advanced in the mid 20th century by the students of the Saqqakhaneh School; a neo-traditional group of artists that derived inspiration from Iranian folk art and culture. Founded by Charles Hossein Zenderoudi and Parviz Tanavoli, these artists explored thousand’s of years of

Persian history; it’s decorative arts and designs. They reinterpreted traditional art forms, which inspired and stimulated them to create innovative new works, contemporary in style, but laden with historically significant themes and cultural references. The works gathered for Miniature Rewind 1 hopefully display the varied and multi-dimensional ways in which contemporary artists interpret the practice of miniature painting, by combining culturally significant elements and art forms with contemporary styles and imagery.


Saira Wasim

Divine Comedy of Error I, 2013 Gouache, siver leaf on wasli paper 27 x 37.3 cm (10 5/8 x 14 5/8in.) “I like to put the stage drama (World politics) into the centuries-­‐old format of miniature painting, that approaches the glamour and grandeur of the realms. It has a cast of national actors (countries); the characters are sometimes heroic, at other times they are petty; the action is always dramatic and often tragic, but based on their national interests and audiences (innocent public), merely entertained or deceived. But still drama moves and repeats like a carousel at the circus.” In Wasim’s hands, the centuries-­‐old format of the miniature painting has been transformed into a stage for human drama. Wasim’s prolific use of allegory – the staple of her Mughal, Renaissance, and contemporary political sources – serves her work well, providing a weighty counterpart to the levity of brightly coloured details and seemingly flippant caricatures. Concealed by the meticulous detailing and technical virtuosity of her pictures, allegorical imagery bears a myriad of darker truths.

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Saira Wasim

Divine Comedy of Error II, 2011 Gouache, marbling and silver on wasli paper 23.8 x 38.7 cm. (9 3/8 x 15 Âź in.)

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Saira Wasim

Plea for Peace, 2008 – 2012 Gouache, ink , gold and Abri on wasli paper 54.6 x 49.5cm. (21.5 x 19.5 inches.)

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Faiza Butt The Joker, 2013 Ink on polyester film 33 x 45 cm. (13 x 17 ¾ in.) “Working with the concept of gender, I used an image of Afghan man, which I chanced upon on the Internet. Starting with that image as an initial reference I developed layers of symbols and metaphors. I have added exotic camouflaged creatures with patterns that both adorn him, but which also create a sense of the macabre.”

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Mohammad Ali Talpur Alif, 2013

Ink on Paper 101.6 x 73.6cm. (40 x 29in.) Mohammad Ali Talpur, known for his ‘Leeka series’ and ‘bird drawings’ now uses the calligraphic stroke in his meticulous and beautiful works to visually investigate ideas rooted in Islamic philosophy, likening the “dancing lines” to “the deepest visual experience of ‘form as idea’. They cannot be ‘read’, but they do nevertheless communicate a sense of reflection, peace, and introspection, as if the repeating symbols were a form of prayer or meditation. The work can also be read as a visual response to notions of rhythm and metre, integral to music and poetry: both strong influences for the artist, but also intertwined with the Sufism-inflected version of Islam practiced in his native province of Sindh. The recent work can be seen as a beginning, the start of a new journey for the artist in his on-going investigation of line and form.

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Mohammad Ali Talpur Machine Drawing, 2012 Ink on Paper 50.8 x 76.2cm. (20 x 30 in.)

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Princess PEA

A Complex Palace scene 2 (boys will be boys) (Stan Marsh and friends playing football - on a visit at the palace), 2012 Natural pigments on silk. 41.9 x 36.8 cm. (16.5 x 14.5 in.) The World of Princess Pea treads a fine line between the world of fairytale and the mundane. The broad scope of her art challenges perceptions about our conceived notions of the self and identity. As Princess Pea, the artist presents to the world her alter ego in the form of a ‘living doll’. an anime-style figure that can neither talk, smell nor see.  Through her contemporary art practices, Princess Pea brings to the forefront international issues of tradition, identity, celebrities with an underlying satire on global concerns while distorting perceptions, and she holds a BFA & MFA from the Delhi College of Arts, New Delhi, India.

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Princess PEA

A kaleidoscopic view of Princess Pea and the girls enjoying Pac Man, on the Moonlight 2, 2012 Natural pigments on silk. 41.9 x 36.8 cm. (16.5 x 14.5 in.)

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Tv santosh Untitled, 2013

Oil on canvas 30.5 x 30.5 cm. (12 x 12 in.)

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WASWO x WASWO and R. Vijay

I am Watched while I eat, 2011 Pigment & gold leaf on wasli paper 20. 3 x 20.3cm. (8 x 8 in.) Since 2003 American artist and photographer Waswo x Waswo has collaborated with various Indian artists to create a series of contemporary miniature paintings. In his works Waswo inserts his image into a variety of traditional Indian scenes, creating an interesting play on the traditional Indian miniature tradition. “Miniatures express feelings and ideas which cannot be expressed through photography,” he says. Waswo’s miniatures are painted by R. Vijay and are mostly autobiographical. “I make a very rough sketch of what I would like to see in the miniature, and R. Vijay then perfects the sketch, and after my approval, proceeds to paint. These miniatures portray different episodes from my life in India,” says Waswo. “Of course R. Vijay adds a lot of his own feeling and style,” he adds.

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WASWO x WASWO and R. Vijay

The Village People Treat me like a King-homage to BB, 2010 Tempera on paper 24.3 x 19.3cm. (9 5/8 x 7 5/8 in.)

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Olivia Fraser Diwali, 2007

Pigment, Arabic gum, gold leaf on handmade Sanganer paper 21.5 x 31.7 cm (8 ½ x 12 ½ in.) Olivia Fraser first came to India in 1989 and had her first show in Delhi in 1991. Following in the footsteps of her ancestor, James Baillie Fraser who painted India, its monuments and landscape in the early 1800s, Olivia set out to continue where her ancestor had left off, painting the architecture of India and its people. She has studied the traditional Indian miniature painting technique under Jaipuri and Delhi masters, and now uses this in her work with its gem-like stone colours, its unique miniature brush work, and its elaborate decorative and burnished surfaces. Having been especially influenced by Nathdwara pichwai painting in recent years, Olivia has been exploring its visual language, honing it down to create one of her own that seeks to convey the very essence of the Rajasthani tradition.

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Olivia Fraser Bakri, 2008

Pigment, Arabic gum, gold leaf on handmade Sanganer paper 21.5 x 31.7 cm (8 ½ x 12 ½ in.)

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Olivia Fraser Desert, 2012

Pigment, Arabic gum on handmade Sanganer paper 63 x 63 cm (24 他 x 24 他 in.)

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Ramin Haerizadeh Mangy Lion Series, 2011

Mixed-media and collage on paper 35.5 x 25.5 cm. (14 x 10in.) Dubai-based Iranian artist Ramin Haerizadeh fought his way from the paths he was expected to follow to acquire a diverse education in the arts. Exploring photography, drawing, painting, film, animation and collage, he creates multifaceted works that lyrically reclaim and transform found images into arrestingly witty, but tragically troubling, scenes of humanity

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Ramin Haerizadeh Mangy Lion Series, 2012

Mixed-media and collage on paper 35.5 x 25.5 cm. (14 x 10in.)

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Ramin Haerizadeh Mangy Lion Series, 2012

Mixed-media and collage on paper 35.5 x 25.5 cm. (14 x 10in.)

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Hesam Rahmanian

Flower Dancing for the Rhino in the Rain, 2013 Collage of recycled paint, acrylic and ink on paper 30.5 x 40.5 cm. (12 ¼ x 16in.) Rahmanian’s works encourage social discourse through their astute social observations and arresting wit. He has developed a practice that inherently integrates his personal memories, obsessions and inspirations with wider questions of social and political issues from his native Iran and beyond. At the core of Rahmanian’s creative explorations is the desire to maintain equality between the subjects and the painterly techniques appropriated. His approaches fluctuate so that in certain works, events, allegories and metaphors flood out through fluid gestural painting that shadows the spontaneous energy of the discontent and the momentum of overbearing powers. In other works, wrought layers of heavy paint build up on the canvas as Rahmanian’s ideas evolve; animals emerge from tanks, car wrecks emerge from abstraction, and the surfaces are scratched at obsessively. The laborious evolution of these paintings captures another aspect of unabated human struggle and frustration.

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Hesam Rahmanian

In the Heart of Every Cow There is a Cat, 2013 Collage of recycled paint, acrylic and ink on paper 17.7 x 25.5cm. (7 x 10 1/16in.)

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Hesam Rahmanian Lizard in the Desert, 2013

Collage of recycled paint and acrylic on paper 17.7 x 27cm. (7 x 10 5/8in.)

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miniature rewind 1 20 - 23 March

Art Dubai 2013 Booth J22 Madinat Jumeirah Dubai Contact Conor Macklin Charles Moore art@grosvenorgallery.com


Miniature Rewind 1  

Catalogue for Art Dubai 2013

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