London Pace Gallery presents Prabhavathi Meppayil’s first solo exhibition. Her new body of work focuses on the artists concerns of modernism and minimalism.
Meppayil was born in Bangalore in 1965 and went on to study at Bangalore University and Ken School of Art, Bangalore. The artist presented major installations at Art Basel’s Unlimited and at the Dhaka Art Summit. She has exhibited widely in India and was the subject of a solo exhibition at the American Academy in Rome.
It is important to note that Meppayil descends from generations of goldsmiths, therefore her craftsmanship for using her hands magically stems through, naturally, into her artistic work.
The use of traditional tools, which are essentially geometric in form, is the focal point of Meppayil’s large-scale installation exhibited at the 2018 Biennale of Sydney and replicated in the exhibition at Pace. sb/eighteen consists of gesso and 875 found iron, copper and brass tools, carefully assembled on a wall with a pristine white surface. The individual objects are deliberately arranged in a pattern suggesting a low-relief grid. These objects, conventionally used by goldsmiths in the application of their craft, also allude to postwar abstraction where geometric structures were often used to facilitate non-hierarchical methods of organisation. Three new cast concrete and copper sculptures reference these traditional tools.
By taking tools that are commonly used in the artisanal process, most of which are obsolete and dislodged from their original purpose, Meppayil reiterates them as art objects while also retaining vestiges of their individual histories. This process also emphasizes their materiality and simple forms.
Lines and carving also remain a leitmotif in her oeuvre, as Meppayil expresses the necessity to come back to the pureness and essence of the material. These paintings feature copper wires embedded in heavily gessoed surfaces and rows of indented marks left with goldsmith’s tools – most notably the thinnam – used to incise ornamental patterns in bangles. The delicacy of the lines and marks belie the intense labour needed to create these works.
This exhibition will introduce recent acquisitions by the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art of The Met. In rich dialogue with Pace’s history, Meppayil’s reinterpretation of Minimalist trademarks such as the grid recall the visual language of Agnes Martin, whilst her dedication to surface and pure monochromy evoke Robert Ryman. Recent Works will also coincide with this year’s Venice Biennale. The Encyclopedic Palace, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013) included Meppayil’s work, which subsequently prompted the start of the relationship with Pace.
26 APRIL - 25 MAY
6 BURLINGTON GARDENS, LONDON.