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Manish Nai


Manish Nai, Sans titre, 2018, jute et bois, Ø 213,4 cm
"Recent Works"
12 janvier - 16 février, 2019
Sélection d'oeuvre d'art
Galerie Karsten Greve in Cologne is pleased to devote a fourth solo exhibition Manish Nai – Recent Works to the contemporary Indian artist Manish Nai. The works, nearly all dating from the past two years, reflect virtually the entire range of his œuvre, and are characterized by a materiality all of their own.
Born in Gujarat in 1980 and now based in Mumbai, Manish Nai is one of the few artists of his generation from the subcontinent to have committed themselves rigorously to abstraction. While the contemporary art scene in India is best known for colourful, narrative and figural works, Nai has reduced his palette mainly to natural hues, a vigorous indigo blue and almost exclusively geometric forms.
The starting point of his artistic production is jute. He obtains the material from the remnant stocks of his father’s jute wholesale business. This traditional Indian natural product is transported by Nai into an artistic context. A large area of wall, which he covers over and over with twisted and twirled and wrung-out masses of jute-cotton fabric and dyed deep indigo blue awakens associations in the beholder of a tapestry or the twisting meanders of the convolutions of the brain. Starting with the painting, the artist develops his unmistakable form of expression by gluing sackcloth to canvas and cutting small pieces out of the fabric in order to create ever more complex patterns.
Manish Nai’s work – like the Arte Povera which he greatly admires – is concerned with producing art from everyday materials alien to art. In addition to jute he mostly uses newsprint and tracing paper, sheet aluminium and mosquito nets.
After working on the development of his works in jute and canvas for almost a decade, Nai then began to experiment with illusionist mural painting, photography and sculpture.
The exhibition in Cologne presents a number of metallically shimmering floor sculptures consisting of crumpled and crushed aluminium sheeting whose compact spherical forms evoke a positively haptic effect. Since 2011 the artist has been experimenting with industrial aluminium sheeting, a metallic material characterized by its tactile nature and fragile nature of the surface, its plastic qualities being revealed by its capacity for deformation. To this end, the heated metal is beaten by hand before being embedded in a metallic matrix and then compressed using a hydraulic press.
The focus of his most recent large-format works using mosquito mesh is not so much on the material itself but on its visual aspect. The point of departure for these works is an everyday object present in every Indian house: a piece of wire netting attached to the window-frame to keep insects out. Nai superimposes two such pieces of wire mesh to create an inconstant chance pattern that oscillates in a continual to and fro between the surface and the background, depending on the lighting and the position of the beholder. The forms and patterns that take shape on the surface convey the impression of moiré silk. The most striking and particularly appealing aspect of these works is precisely this parallel with silken textile weaves. The fact that a metallic everyday material can be seen as an abstract image in its own right and at the same time as silken fabric is at the heart of these most recent works by Nai, their optical inconstancy depending on the incident light.
The diverse media and materials used by the artist reflect his sensitivity for technical processes such as folding, crumpling and creasing, his feel for subtle variations of hue and texture, and his devotion to formal precision.

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