South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

"Imperial Spectacles: Painting, Performance and Vision"

Wed, February 15, 2012

Rajkamal Kahlon's interdisciplinary practice centers on the social history of painting and drawing. While maintaining a commitment to the disciplines of painting and drawing, her work enacts a careful interrogation of the boundaries and the assumptions which form them. This interrogation is made along the fault lines of colonial histories, pre- and post-independence, and the globalized present. Her work, approaching the mediums of painting and drawing from a conceptual and material standpoint, often confronts the viewer with the implication of their own body in the production of meaning. 

The work addresses the intimate and emotional impact of how power is inscribed on and by the body, in part through a level of performativity inherent in the works form and in the viewers relation to it, which sometimes exceeds the traditional bounds of how painting is understood. It is a continual play between the subject and object, a play of simultaneity and contradiction, an ambivalent belief in and deconstruction of painting, the image and the larger field of representation. This ambivalence resulting in a continual reconstitution and disavowel of painting and the image is informed by an interrogation of the ideological positions of representation as they are linked to forms of racial and colonial authority. 

In a dialectical engagement with historical texts and images she critiques the will to "make" humans implicit in the visual practices backed by repressive regimes of power in part with the use of violent imagery framed by psychedelia and the human body turned grotesque through its traumatic encounters with colonialism, military rule and torture. 

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