Image rights: Artist and Kavi Gupta Chicago
Manish Nai’s adoration of twentieth century
abstraction began in college, coinciding with
a moment when abstraction had fallen out of
favor in India. At this time, while Nai resolutely
pursued minimalism, figurative collage and
ornamentation surged in popularity, his work
definitively going against the fashion. Using
material that was both modest and quintessentially
Indian, like jute and newspaper, Nai’s
pieces were and are studies in tedious complexities
that, once completed, are presented
as a tightly organized unit.
The media that Nai uses are usually cheap and
ubiquitous, alluding to both hierarchies of
artistic media and Indian social structures.
Jute, for instance, is a strong vegetable fiber,
often woven into a durable fabric similar
to burlap that was once used as clothing
material for the poor, and is now used more
commonly in building construction. Nai hails
from a family of jute traders, and his intimate
understanding of the material comes equally
from a cultural and familial relationship to it.
His use of newspapers examines the tremendous
diversity and contention within Indian
society: there are almost 100 newspapers
in 19 different languages distributed daily
in India. Nai soaks these, stripping them of
their words, and compresses them in wooden
molds, elevating these items from disposable
to the rarified.
Born 1980 in Gujarat, India, Manish Nai attained
a Diploma in Drawing and Painting from the
L.S. Raheja School of Art in Mumbai. He has a
forthcoming solo exhibition at Het
Noordbrabants Museum, Netherlands, and
has held solo exhibitions at Fondation Fernet
Branca, Saint-Louis, France; Galerie Karsten
Greve, Cologne, Paris and St. Moritz; Kavi
Gupta, Chicago; Galerie Mirchandani +
Steinruecke, Mumbai; and Galerie Gebr.
Lehmann, Berlin, among others. His work was
featured in the book Vitamin D2 – New
Perspectives in Drawing, PHAIDON, 2013.
About Manish Nai
Indian, b. 1980, Gujarat, India, based in Mumbai, India