Nalini Malani was a child during the Partition, a girl who remembers her days as a refugee in the aftermath of 1947. She admits it has been a life-changing experience for her. “Our family went through a lot of conflict. My grandfather lost his job and had to look for an alternative to support the family,” she recalls.
Early childhood experiences influenced her and perhaps that is why Malani’s paintings have thought-provoking interpretations. “A painting is not a painting unless it urges you to think,” she tells us. Malani is known for her experimental paintings that mix fragmentary images with allegorical dream-like situations. She has showcased her works in Sydney, Paris and Germany. Her solo show, Womantime, will focus on the problems that women face in contemporary society.
The paintings are not too didactical but are open to interpretations for the viewer. One such painting titled, Getting Curiouser, is a modern take on a grown up Alice who is still in Wonderland and the problems she faces during puberty. Malani quips, “It’s obvious that Lewis Carroll never considered the grown-up Alice and her problems. It’s my take on Alice in Wonderland.” Since Malani has been actively involved in theatre, films and documentaries, she also creates shadow and video plays. Apart from the paintings, these too make the exhibition interesting and involving.
Her shadow plays and video plays involve the shadows of cylinders that form a mirrored object and have been a huge hit since she first showcased them in the Sydney Biennale a few years ago. Explaining this concept she elaborates, “I think people perceive art to be for the upper class. It is not so, it is meant for the masses too. Video and shadow plays.” This helps you understand a concept easily. Her dream therefore is to create paintings that make people of all classes think and evolve.