Anoushka Mirchandani

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In advance of a December three-person exhibition at San Francisco-based gallery Glass Rice, we had the opportunity to catch up with artist Anoushka Mirchandani to discuss the new series of paintings to be featured in the show, how her style has evolved in recent years, and what she's most looking forward to in 2022.

Photo courtesy of Hillary Jeanne Photography

You are in the countdown phase to your next exhibition with Glass Rice. What can we expect from the new works that you will be presenting in this show?

My new works draw on my Indian ancestry and are specifically inspired by my matrilineage and the women that came before me. One of the works presented is a portrait of my grandmother, juxtaposed alongside an imagined self-portrait. In addition, after an extensive period of experimentation I have further developed the techniques that I use for my abstract works in order to incorporate these into my figurative works. I am very excited to reveal how my various processes encounter each other and come together in these new works. Lately, I have been interested in exploring symbols, motifs, and objects that are infused with cultural history, personal memory, and nostalgic sentiment, and in delving further into my roots, I discovered two motifs that I have embedded in these new paintings, both of which are inspired by my nani's (mother's mother) wedding yellow

“Nest”

Can you tell us why the exhibition is titled Far and Familiar and how you see your work relating to the other two artists, Sanie Bakhari, and Renluka Maharaj? 

Far and Familiar aptly explores themes of displacement, immigration, belonging, and nostalgia. The exhibition includes works by myself, alongside Sanie and Renluka, both immensely talented artists. It has been important to me to have my works in conversations with other South Asian female artists so that we can share our stories collectively and in solidarity. Although we are from different parts of the South Asian diaspora (India, Pakistan, and Trinidad-Tobago), I very much relate to the journeys of Sanie and Renluka, both of whom moved to the United States as teenagers, like myself. Our works complement one another, whilst revealing important narratives born from a perspective that is shaped by our respective immigration stories, cultural upbringing as desi women, and individual expressions of womanhood and identity.

I am delighted to be sharing space with Sanie and Renluka, and am grateful to our wonderful curators, Sadaf Padder and Cecilia Chia of Glass Rice for bringing us all together.

“Hypnotized”

How has your artistic practice developed over the years?

My work in many ways has always been and continues to be an exploration and investigation of my journey as an Indian/Immigrant/Other/American/Woman/Artist and navigating this multiplicity of identities. However, my depictions of the female form have developed considerably over the last few years, from focusing initially on nude representation in order to repair the relationship of shame/fear I had created with my body because of my upbringing in India, to more nuanced portrayals of context, and surrounding environments that affect and alter a woman's psyche.

“Wild Refuge”

In what ways have you incorporated experimentation and pushed yourself to take risks in your work?

Failures and the ensuing learned resilience is part and parcel of a dedicated art practice. While the work is continuously developing even during phases of “production” while creating a body of work for a show, I have found that it's important and helpful to carve out time and space to invite inspiration and creativity in, and in turn to be playful and experiment without the additional pressures of a required successful outcome due to upcoming deadlines. For me, there have been innumerable hours of failed experiments and scrapped artworks that lead to magical discoveries after a circuitous voyage.

“Golden Hour”

As the year draws to a close and you reflect on all that has happened, I wonder if there is one memory that stands out – whether that is an achievement you're especially proud of, a piece that marked a creative breakthrough, or something else .

2021 was a challenging and simultaneously very rewarding year. My first solo exhibition in London was earlier this year, and the works received a fantastic reception which I am very thankful for! I also had the opportunity to present an artwork in the Artsy x ArtNoir: From: Friends To: Friends Benefit Auction, the proceeds of which were granted to MFA visual art students of color attending a CUNY or SUNY graduate arts program. As aforementioned, I'm really excited to be exhibiting in the upcoming Far and Familiar group show in San Francisco this December. A perfect way to close out 2021!

What are your goals for 2022 and beyond?

I am looking forward to participating in multiple artist residencies in 2022 – Wassaic Project in Upstate New York, and Local Language in Oakland, California to really push past the boundaries in my practice creatively and conceptually and to think beyond the limits of two-dimensionality in my work.

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