the most entertaining artist-iconoclast of contemporary Indian art

b. 1956, in Bangalore, India


Pushpamala N was born in Bangalore in 1956. Following an undergraduate degree at Bangalore University, she took her BA and an MA in Sculpture at M.S. University in Baroda. First interested in creating an indigenous language based on an essential idea of “Indianness” in her early sculptures, the artist then started working with conceptual photography and video. While her recent work is primarily conducted through the medium of photo and video-performance in which she appears in an array of guises as the central subject, her early training in sculpture remains perceptible in the iconic, posed and solidly representational quality of her images and films.


Pushpamala's depictions of her varied personae are enigmatic and ambiguous. The characters she portrays seem simultaneously naïve and knowing, drawing us into the fantasies they enact, and co-opting us into the playing out of the multiple narratives and genres - cinematic, ethnographical, and mythological - that the artist invokes. Yet the artist's willing subjection of herself to the politically, culturally and sexually charged readings that emerge from her performances paradoxically allows for the restoration of agency to both the artist and her audience, enabling the construction of an ironic and critical distance which constantly informs her oeuvre.


Pushpamala's projects stage histories real and feigned, collective and individual. Her rich and complex masquerades, reinvent a range of stereotypes and archetypes, and call into question the nature of representation, interrogating the coherence of grand narratives offered by national histories and heroic legends, and probing smooth assumptions of the unreconstructed, unchanging nature of cultural mores and gender roles.


The artist lives and works in Bangalore, India.

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