Fellow: Awarded 2018
Field of Study: Fine Arts
Competition: US & Canada
As I enter my house, I see my studio and the work therein framed by the open pocket doors, slices of ceiling, and receding floor and walls. On the surfaces of the stretched canvases are depictions of the work I do in there. I paint painting. I constantly rediscover painting through studying its diverse conceptions across time and geography. I am obsessed with little things like Goya’s calling card clutched in a magpie’s beak and Zurburan’s cartellino on a painting of the crucifixion. I am motivated by big ideas such as innovating within formal painting conventions and subverting contemporary taboos against "didactic" or "precious" art. My central intention is to turn the artist’s self-portrait, especially the woman-of-color’s self-portrait, long circumscribed by identity, into a discourse on picture-making, past and present. I show my subject reading, writing, handling canvases in the studio. Working across modalities of painting—abstraction, text, naturalism, schematic description, graphic flatness and illusion—I replace the common self-portrait motif, the artist standing before the easel, with a broader portrait of the artist at work. By positioning a woman-of-color as primary picture-maker in whose hands the figurative tradition is refashioned, I knit my contemporary concerns, personal and painterly, into the centuries old conversation of representation. This is where I live.
Ahuja’s works have been widely exhibited. Venues include Brooklyn Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Saatchi Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Crystal Bridges, Baltimore Museum of Art and Grand Rapids Art Museum. “Whip-smart and languorous” is how the July 24, 2017 issue of the New Yorker described a work by Mequitta Ahuja then on view at the Asia Society Museum.
Current and forthcoming exhibitions:
Notations, Tiwani Contemporary, London, UK, April 13 – June 2, 2018
Held, Tiwani Contemporary, Art Brussels, Belgium, April 19 – 22, 2018
She Alone, Brand New Gallery, Milan, Italy, Fall, 2018
Profile photo by Mequitta Ahuja