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Nalini Malani

Artist Nalini Malani is to receive the first Contemporary Fellowship awarded by the National Gallery, and supported by Art Fund, it was announced today.

The new National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship with Art Fund is a pioneering, peer-to-peer collaboration with a non-London collecting institution, which this year is the Holburne Museum, Bath. The Fellowship, which is awarded to an artist of international standing and renown with a major body of work that has significantly contributed to 20th- and 21st-century art, is part of the National Gallery’s Contemporary Programme, sponsored by Hiscox.

The two-year research, production, and exhibition programme will allow Malani to work in close collaboration with specialists from both the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum to study the institutions and their collections and to create new art for an exhibition in Bath and London during 2022–23. The research and production process and final artworks will be documented in a publication and the Holburne Museum will have the opportunity to acquire a work which has been created as part of the Fellowship.

Nalini Malani, born in 1946, lives and works in Mumbai, India. Graduating from Sir J J School of Art, Mumbai, in 1969, her practice began with experimental film and photography. From the late 1980s onward, Malani’s work increasingly questioned conventional painting traditions; reaching a wider audience and consistently speaking up against the rise of political oppression.

Malani has been a major figure in a period of artistic globalisation. For over five decades, her work has focused on human and universal aspects of conflict, giving a voice to the stories of those marginalised by history – particularly women.

As a pioneer of video art in India, she creates immersive installations, theatre, ephemeral wall drawings, erasure performances and her signature ‘shadow plays’. Her artworks focus on themes of transnational politics, the ramifications of globalisation, and the critical examination of gender roles.

Since 2000, Malani has had solo exhibitions at over twenty international institutions, including the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (2020); Castello di Rivoli, Rivoli (2018); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2017); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, (2016); Kiran Nader Museum of Art, New Delhi (2014); the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2012), and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2002). In 2013 she won the Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize; in 2014 the St. Moritz Art Masters Lifetime Achievement Award; in 2016 the Asian Art Game Changers Award Hong Kong and in 2019, the Joan Miró Prize, Barcelona. This September, Nalini Malani will inhabit the Whitechapel Gallery with an immersive installation, drawing on a wide range of subject matter from the political to personal.

The National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship with Art Fund was awarded by an international jury, comprised of: Daniel F. Herrmann, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Projects, National Gallery; Sunjung Kim, President, Gwangju Biennale Foundation; Charlotte Klonk, Professor of Art History and New Media, Humboldt University of Berlin; Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, President, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo; Chris Stephens, Director, the Holburne Museum, Bath; and Richard Wentworth, Artist.

The National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship is supported by Art Fund, which enabled an open call to public collecting institutions outside London to become the partner institution. The National Gallery’s Modern and Contemporary Advisory Panel selected the Holburne Museum in Bath as the partner institution for the inaugural Fellowship.

The Fellowship will culminate in an exhibition at the Holburne Museum, Bath, in autumn 2022, and at the National Gallery in spring 2023. Following its UK run, the exhibition will be available to tour internationally.

Since its foundation, the National Gallery and its collection have been a source of inspiration for artists from all over the world. Established in 1824, the Gallery now holds a collection of over 2,500 paintings predominantly in the West European tradition dating from the mid-13th century to the early 20th century. With a strong commitment to showing modern and contemporary art in conversation with its historic collection, the Contemporary Fellowship programme is at the heart of the Gallery’s Modern and Contemporary Programme.

Nalini Malani says: ’It’s a great honour to be selected, by this international committee, to become the inaugural National Gallery Contemporary Fellow. This two-year programme, is a unique challenge to research and create in conversation with the collections and the teams of the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum. Cross-cultural/historical conversations have been the basis of my art making since fifty years. All the more today I feel it is a pressing necessity as Our Stories have to be Retold, to give us a chance to become a more humane society.’

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London, says: ’I am thrilled that Nalini Malani will be the Gallery’s first Contemporary Fellowship artist and I look forward to the interaction we at the National Gallery and at the Holburne Museum in Bath will have with such a distinguished artist over the next two years. Malani’s reflections on the iconography of myth, history and politics in the National Gallery will surely be highly compelling.’

Dr Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum, Bath, says: ’I am very proud that the Holburne has been selected to be the inaugural partner in the new National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship with Art Fund and I am delighted to be working with the National Gallery and Nalini Malani. We are committed to animating our collection through dialogue with the best contemporary art and to identifying and exploring connections between our experience and the wider world. There could not be a more appropriate or exciting artist to do those things than Nalini Malani.’

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund, says: ’Working together will become more important than ever for museums and galleries and so we are delighted to be supporting this innovative Contemporary Fellowship. It offers an exciting opportunity for collaboration between the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum and will bring the work of an important international artist to audiences in Bath and London. Nalini Malani is an exceptional artist and I look forward to seeing her exhibition in 2022.’

Daniel F. Herrmann, National Gallery Curator of Modern and Contemporary Projects, says: 'Nalini Malani has proven to be one of the most compelling voices in contemporary art over past decades. A master storyteller with a keen awareness of political injustice, Malani tenaciously shows us the importance and beauty of images to reflect, reconsider and remake the world around us.’

Nalini Malani is the first artist to be chosen for this Fellowship which has been created as part of the Gallery’s Modern and Contemporary Programme.

The National Gallery’s Contemporary Programme is sponsored by Hiscox.

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