Delving into organized religion, sexuality, and gender, Nithiyendran creates wild, irreverent figures and totemic sculptures that are finished with fake teeth, human hair, spray paint, and resin. An atheist, he draws on his Hindu and Christian background, as well as the internet and pornography. “There is a sense that you can make anything out of clay,” he says. “From a philosophical perspective, the many histories associated with the material allows you to engage with the past, present, and future.”
Keen to bypass traditional techniques of ceramics and clay, he’s developed unorthodox practices like building his works as separate components and attaching them after firing, or working with carpenters and engineers to develop internal supports for his large-scale works. Fresh from solo museum shows at the National Gallery of Australia and the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Nithiyendran has considerable momentum behind him. He will feature in Sydney’s new art biennial, The National: New Australian Art, this March, and he’ll have a solo show at Sullivan+Strumpf gallery in Sydney this November and at the Dhaka Art Summit in February 2018.