IAAC Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora 2015

Padmini Mongia
Padmini Mongia
Padmini Mongia

I began painting seriously about 14 years ago, and after many years as a literary scholar and teacher (identities I continue to inhabit). Although my abstract works are not recognizably “Indian,” I often work with Indian materials, such as handmade paper, dry indigo (neel), and natural colors. The texture and living quality of the paper is something I love, so I retain and even enhance traces of the natural materials used in the paper.

I approach canvas in a similar way, so I don’t always stretch it before I paint and often paint on raw, untreated canvas as in the large painting here. My works begin with an intuitive impulse to examine and explore color, surface, scale, and texture to create an image. I may be drawn to the thickness of the paper, the weave of canvas, or the glow of a particular color. My curiosity about what I can do with these and other materials is the starting point for my exploration. The subject of my paintings emerges as the image develops. Step by step, color and texture and form interact.

Ink, indigo, mediums, and gels are some of the substances I use. The materiality of the paper and the canvas are an important part of my compositions. Many of my works are collaged using handmade paper from India, Myanmar, Cambodia and other places. I also experiment with brushes not usually associated with painting, such as the loose brushes made of grasses and coconut fiber, usually used for whitewashing houses, which allow me sweeping strokes impossible with a traditional brush. Recently, I have also been drawn to the relationships suggested in triptychs and quadtychs, where individual parts create a new whole, as in the one here. A quadtych, whole and separable at once, offers both containment and commentary, so that the painting expresses a more complex set of relationships than may be obvious at first.

February, 2015 Just a Few of Us.” Abstract Painters of Lancaster.
The Phillips Museum, Franklin & Marshall College
Fall 2013 Modulations.” Sporting Club at the Bellevue, Philadelphia
October 2011, POST (Philadelphia Open Studios Tour) 2012, 2013
August 2010 “In Ink and Blue.” Solo show at Zaza Space, Zamrudpur, New Delhi
February 2009 Out of Blue.” Solo show at the India International Center Annexe, New Delhi
December 2008 “Renewal 1” included in the group show “Panorama” at Epicenter, Gurgaon
May 2008- “Trip Tic,” and “Dry Indigo/Multan” included in “Celebration of
March 2010 Visual Traditions” juried and touring exhibition at museums in Pennsylvania, USA. Juror: Faith Ringgold.
June 2007 “Displaced.” Group show at the Art Institute of Philadelphia
March 2007 The Multan Series.” Show at the Pfenninger Gallery, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
October 2006 “Inner Town, Multan,” included in “Celebrating India” at Delhi, March 2007 Bombay, and Bangalore. Curator: Suneet Chopra
May 2006 Memory of Dharamsala #1” included in “Visual Traditions” December 2007 juried and touring exhibition at museums in Pennsylvania
July 2006 “Modulations.” Solo show at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi
December 2004 “Shapes of Nature.” Solo show at the HabiArt Gallery, New Delhi
March 2003 “Daphne Series 2.” Included in juried show at the AMA, Chicago
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