Purity, of race, of religion, of conduct, and indeed of thought, have been at the heart of mankind’s repeated attempts to create a perfect society. A perfect society which both keeps those on the inside pure, and those on the outside, well…outside. Powerful leaders, and their followers who give them the power, seek this purity, this perfection. They do so by building walls that keep heterogeneity out, and by ensuring homogeneity inside. The leader and followers feed off of each other, building not only physical walls, but metaphorical ones through circular references, through immersive echo chambers, so loud and so sound-proof, that for those on the inside, the outside ceases to exist.
A Perfect Society challenges the notion of a perfect society and the purity it harkens for. Through their brashness of thought and art making, they force the echo chamber inhabitants to acknowledge the world outside. The quest for perfection starts before birth. Mumbai based Chintan Upadhyay (b. 1972) shot to fame in the nineties and aughts, for his critique of female feticide and infanticide, visually sumptuous oil on canvas (or fiberglass) transcriptions of computer generated baby perfection.
Philadelphia based Anuj Shrestha (b. 1977) works in the graphic novel format, employing visual puns to expose political double-speak in often humorous ways. Shrestha’s editorial work has appeared in the New York Times and The New Yorker, among other outlets.
Vadodara, India based Abir Karmakar (b. 1977) combines traditional oil painting techniques, and a virtuoso painting ability, with very contemporary themes. In the works in this show, he juxtaposes every day, banal scenes with security camera perspectives, questioning the notion of normalcy of today. Karmakar’s work has been shown in several prestigious forums, including the Kochi Biennale.
Adeela Suleman (b. 1970) is based in Karachi, Pakistan; where she combines a flourishing art practice alongside a career in academia. Her sculptures in this show create anthropomorphic forms, out of mass produced industrial objects, perhaps recalling now debunked medical pseudo-science efforts to craft perfect humans and animals. Adeela Suleman’s work is in several prestigious public and private collections, including the Die Pinakothek, Munich, New South Wales Art Gallery, and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi.
Pakistan born and New York based Saks Afridi (b. 1975) is a multimedia artist. In the works in this show, working with traditional carpet weavers, he has reinterpreted traditional motifs, in ways that recall the familiar, but insert disruption from the outside.
Born and based in Brooklyn, Chitra Ganesh (b. 1975) is a pioneer of using the graphic novel format. She borrows heavily from the format of Amar Chitra Katha series, a nod to growing up in an Indian immigrant household, to talk about gender and racial identity in America. Ganesh is the recipient of several prestigious awards and residencies; her work is in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among other notable institutions.
Gigi Scaria (b. 1973) lives and works in New Delhi. He paints, sculpts, and works with digital image – both still and moving. His main concern is urban development, which promises utopia but almost always fails to deliver. Gigi’s work is in the permanent collection of the Cincinnati Museum of Art, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, and has been shown at the Kochi Biennale.
Seher Naveed K. is based in Karachi where she is professor and head of the department of fine arts at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She trained at Central St. Martin’s in London. In this show her works showcase gates of upper middle class homes in Karachi, designed to keep wealth in and poverty out.