Nalini Malani Indian, b. 1946


Born in Karachi (undivided India) in 1946, Nalini Malani received a classical academic training in painting at the Sir J.J. School of Art. At the same time she had a studio at the Bhulabhai Memorial Institute (1964–67) where artists, musicians, dancers and theatre persons worked individually and as a community. She was a part of VIEW – the Vision Exchange Workshop – right from its conception in 1969, in the same city where she made experimental films and a series of camera-less photographs. In 1970 she received a grant from the French government to study in Paris.


For five decades, Malani has in her art addressed social, political and societal issues surrounding the Indian Subcontinent, including the conflict between India and Pakistan, the abuse and violence against women, and the struggle for democracy. Starting out as a painter, film-maker and photographer in 1969, Malani broke out of the classical painting frame in the late eighties to reach a wider audience, with installations, theatre, ephemeral wall drawings, erasure performances and video/shadow plays. Malani’s intense and committed art reveals her search for the profound certainties of life, of society, of experience-persisting ‘evidence’, which is encountered and felt.


Over her lifetime Malani has received various awards, including an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute (2010), the Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize (2013), the St Moritz Art Masters Lifetime Achievement Award (2014), the Asian Art Game Changers Award (2016), and the Joan Miró prize (2019), among earlier recognitions.


She has participated in innumerable solo exhibitions both in India and abroad, including Max Mueller Bhavan Institute, Mumbai (2019); Arario Gallery, Shanghai (2018); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2017); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2016); the Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Mauritius (2015); Engadinar Museum, St Moritz (2014), to name a few. She has also participated extensively in biennales and triennials, including the 12th Shanghai Biennale in 2018, the 3rd Asia Triennial Manchester in 2014, the 1st Kochi–Muziris Biennale in 2013,  the 13th dOCUMENTA in 2012, among others.


The artist lives and works between Bombay and Amsterdam.

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