Nature Morte is pleased to present Ayesha Singh’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. The artist has created three new sculptural installations, responding to the spaces of the gallery. With her works, Singh continues to pursue conversations which make evident the hierarchies of socio-political power that are inherent in architecture through research into India’s capital city, New Delhi, the artist’s home town. Architecture functions not only as a tangible link to the past, but is also ascribed to the creation of proposed historic facts. Our cityscapes endure the complexities of human existence through centuries of rising and falling empires, natural adversities, and war. The construction, propagation, and legitimization of history has a way of establishing our sense of identity and belonging, as both individuals and as a nation-state. When our reality is continuously being erased and rewritten, to what do we tether our understanding of the present?
The centrepiece of the exhibition is the suite of works entitled Skewed Histories (2023), a new series of imposing sculptures that reference nostalgic familiarities specific to Delhi. Drawing from the design of the Southern Gateway of the Qutub (Minar) complex in the south of the city (commissioned in 1311 AD by the Khalji Dynasty), Singh creates her reinterpretations of the horse-shoe arch. These are seen alongside pieces that cull motifs from the entryways of 20th Century homes in Old Delhi, designed in Indo-Saracenic architecture which combine Indian and European vocabularies. A third design references Singh’s Sikh heritage through arches which reference 19th Century Mughal inspired motifs. Eleven of these arches come together in the gallery’s main space to form an immersive installation, where they transcend their functionality to become metaphors for the effects of time and the mutability of history.
In the gallery’s second viewing room is an installation composed of Singh’s well-known linear sculptural works, Hybrid Drawings (2023). The series takes on a new form with four works coalescing into an optically confounding ensemble. An entanglement of sightlines expands, collapses, and flattens histories. Elsewhere, the visitor will be drawn into the gallery’s smallest room by the faint whisper of revving gears. Here, Frayed Continuum, Cement (2023) is an analog machine within a scaffolding-structure that holds at its centre nine found carved wooden fragments (dating from 1910 to 1960), fused together into a singular object. Over the course of the exhibition, the sculpture’s central element will be repeatedly submerged into liquid cement, transforming it into an archeological conundrum.
Also on view are Singh’s Hybrid Amalgamations (histo-futuristic) (2023), graphite drawings of possible totemic structures that combine elements of imagined and pre-existing architecture blurring multiple references into one form. The artist asks if the past can have a future outside of its monumentalization? The structures are displaced in time, offering sites of contradiction. While Singh has been working on this series for a few years, the drawings on view look more closely at the idea of accumulation, abundance and regeneration, to conflate the familiar with a fantasized dystopia.
The title of the exhibition draws from The Monumental Turn: Considering the Reappropriation of Monument Aesthetics, a paper co authored by political scientist Dr. Jordie Davies & Ayesha Singh.
Ayesha Singh would like to thank everyone without whom this exhibition would not have been possible:
Abdul wahid, Aadya Singh, Aparajita Jain, Aastha K, Abhiviraj Dev Singh, Abhimanyu Dalal, Abhimanyu Sharma, Anchit Banga, Ankit Aggarwal, Ashok Ram, Ashwani Bagga, Bamby Singh, Babu Pandey, Dileep Singh, Dr. Jordie Davies, Gursimran Mangat, Imran Khan, Ilhana Katoch, Juhi Sharma, Kanika Mittal, Kartik Kumar and team, Khushi Bansal, Kuldeep Singh, Lakhan Kaushal, Manjot Rana, misael soto, Mohd Atif and team, Mohd Imran saifi, Mohd Anas, Mohd Ansar, Mohd Danesh, Mohd Firasat, Mohd Siraj, Mohd Zafar, Nasir Ali, Naresh Garg, Noor Singh, Pawan Solanki, Peter Nagy, Prakash Manjhi, Rahul Stephen, Rajan Ji, Raju Gorh and team, Ram Achal, Ramit Mitra, Richa Sinha, Sagar Kumar, Sandeep Kumar, Sanjana Jain, Satakshi Sinha, Shadab Khan, Shubi Gupta, Simran Sangal, Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi, Saurabh Maurya, Tanya Singh, Timmy Martin, Upasna Sehgal, Vandita Misra, Vidisha Aggarwal and Vishal Rawat.