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Pushpamala N.

1956 | Bangalore, India
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— Pushpamala N.

Indian sculptor and photographer.

Pushpamala N. studied sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the M. S. University of Baroda where her professor, artist K. G. Subramanyan (1924-2016), exerted great influence on her works from the 1980s – terracotta busts and reliefs. She perfected her modelling technique until she radically changed the representation of animal and human bodies – mostly female – as seen with The Fool (1984-1985). She paid particular attention to the gestures of increasingly large figures. Through her descriptive realism, her taste for detail and theatricality, and her references to both art history and popular culture, she questions norms with irony and self-mockery. She has exhibited her works in Bangalore, New Dehli – where she participated in the Seven Young Sculptors exhibition in 1985 – and in Mumbai alongside the artist Alex Mathew (1957). In the early 1990s Pushpamala N. questioned the consequences of political and social life in India, before returning to the subject of female identity. Around 1995 she abandoned sculpture for photography and radicalised her method of satire and questioning reality through using her own body.

From her first photographic series, Phantom Lady or Kismet: A Photoromance (1996-1998), to her reflection on the colonial world with her “anthropological” shots from Native Women of South India: Manners and Customs (2000-2004), she constantly summons the Indian collective memory to denounce cultural stereotypes whose codes she modifies and critiques through a meticulous practice of staging and through the use of innumerable references (including cinematographic devices, evocation of film characters, real architectural elements, images and myths taken from classical and popular culture) that allow her to blur genres and multiply levels of interpretation. Surrounded by collaborators, both subject and object, Pushpamala N. is a creator, director and main actor of stories in which humour, melancholy and nostalgia meet, where seriousness arises from the masquerade.

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Judith Ferlicchi

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Phantom Lady or Kismet, 1996-1998, 26 gelatin silver print, photo-romance, concept, direction and performance: Pushpamala N., © Photo: Meenal Agarwal, 40.6 x 50.8 cm each, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Indian Lady, 1997, video loop, colour, silent, 31’’, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Liberty (After Delacroix), 2009, colour Giclee print, 184 x 148 cm, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Portrait of a Christian Woman, 2000-2003, sepia toned silver gelatin prints, concept, direction and performance: Pushpamala N., © Photo: Jh Thakker, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Portrait of a Hindoo Woman, 2000-2003, sepia toned silver gelatin prints, concept, direction and performance: Pushpamala N., © Photo: Jh Thakker, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Portrait of a Mohammedan Woman, 2000-2003, sepia toned silver gelatin prints, concept, direction and performance: Pushpamala N., © Photo: Jh Thakker, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Seduction, 2012, video installation, single channel video or 3 channel video installation, black and white, silent, 4’28’’, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., Sleeping Pig, 1985, terracotta sculpture, approximately 91 cm long, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., The arrival of Vasco de Gama, 2014, Giclee print on canvas, concept, production and direction: Pushpamala N., © Photo: Clay Kelton, 152.4 x 213.3 cm, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., The Fool, 1985, terracotta sculpture painted with white slip, approximately 121 cm high, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., The Slave (and her Slave), 2009, black and white Giclee print, 137 x 110 cm, © Pushpamala N.

Pushpamala N. — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pushpamala N., The Spy (after late 19c portrait of Countess Castiglione by Pierson), 2009, black and white Giclee print, 99 x 78.7 cm, © Pushpamala N.

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