IAAC Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora 2013

Anjali Deshmukh
Anjali Deshmukh
Anjali Deshmukh

I make conceptually grouped or related works - paintings, digital drawings, and texts - that are often the side effects, artifacts, or fallout of some larger narrative or factual constellation. The constellation shapes the reasoning of the images, circumstance, artworks, or fiction that are shed with its passing. I use terms like "lens," "map," or "documentary" or “game” to explain a working process that creates specific relationships between pieces. A "lens," may be a drawing or text applied to the act of painting, a mode of seeing or a tool for comprehension, while the painting embodies practice. A "map" may be a larger geographic space (metaphorical/imagined/real) within which a painting navigates a cultural, political, or natural phenomenon. A “game” may be a generator, a roulette wheel of theoretical images that can’t escape from the laws of randomness. An image may guide a process or be the visual and mythological legend that endows meaning upon a "situation," or a narrative.

There is an armor of rationality that protects or restrains the body of work. It reacts with feelings, information, and knowledge to build or Retrocraft a circle of balance between research, emotion, and aesthetic decision-making. Combined, all of it molds and electrifies the creation of a holistic story. I describe this as Post-Rational Formalism, one kind of post-conceptual painting that tries to carve out a space for dialogue between old concepts of beauty and new processes of dematerialization, between the stereotypical assignations of "decorative" craft, "heroic" painting, and "conceptual" art. In that sense, I consider it a feminist project.

My works interpret geo-social, -political, and -religious aspects of the globalized world. They are made through the lens of the Sublime, a term often used to describe a quality of awe-inspiring greatness that transcends beauty to reach limits of fear and horror. Although the idea is visually associated with 19th- century American landscape painting, its conceptual associations can have a different kind of relevance today. When I use the term sublime, I also can't avoid my own complicity in its forms. I can't talk about the pristine, frightening profile of an environment without seeing my own impact and the socio-cultural, -economic forces that have made-or not made- it what it is. The Sublimeness of the simultaneous shrinking and expansion of the globalized landscape; of an ever expanding knowledge of the Universe that realizes and outpaces science fiction; of new environments like cyberspace and video games; and of the ubiquitous 21st-century information landscape that makes my conceptual process possible…

In a way, the Sublime is supra-moral; it shows us the interplay of these large cultural, physical, and technological shadows across a place. It reminds me of the raw immensity of the overlapping moralities that shape our environment. The elements of nature become twisted to show how we join the grandness and horror of landscapes that exist beyond the edge of our own imaginations.


Anjali's work takes the form of conceptually related digital drawings, fiction, and paintings that examine relationships between the Sublime, geopolitics, and mythology. Anjali received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005, her BA from Amherst College in 2001, and a Fulbright scholarship in Fine Arts in 2007. She was born in Washington, D.C., and currently works at Nonprofit Finance Fund in New York.

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