In this series of blog posts we’ll be looking at each of the artists shortlisted for The Grange Prize 2011: Gauri Gill, Nandini Valli, Althea Thauberger and Elaine Stocki. The Prize is Canada’s only major art prize where the winner is chosen by the public.Vote now. Each year four fine art photographers, two from Canada and two from a partner country, are nominated by an international jury of experts. This year, the partner country is India. The Grange Prize is a partnership between the AGO and Aeroplan.
“The first roll I ever shot… I saw the contact sheet and I was quite amazed. That got me hooked on photography; I wanted to shoot more and more pictures.” Nandini Valli, artist statement (video), The Grange Prize 2011
Nandini Valli Muthiah has rapidly emerged as a key figure in Indian photography, and in particular in the realm of the performative photograph. She draws upon a long, established tradition in Indian popular art, the hyperrealist painted calendar poster of the gods, infecting it with a modern twist and executing the shot with the thoroughness of a cinema auteur. She shows heroic figures in ‘normal’ or ‘modern’ environments – blue-bodied god in a hotel room, or young girls masquerading as Indira Gandhi at a fancy dress show, are comments on India’s perception of the heroic as much as on middle-class aspirations
Born in 1976, Nandini Valli was raised in Chennai, India, where she continues to live. She completed several degrees before entering the field of photography. After an 18-month apprenticeship with a leading commercial photographer in Chennai, Nandini decided to pursue a B.A. Honours in Photography from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, UK (now known as The Arts University College at Bournemouth). This is where she realized she was more suited to producing art photography as opposed to commercial photography.
Nandini Valli: At A Glance
- Her location in Chennai influences her choice of equipment – as there is nowhere to get film professionally developed in Chennai, her focus is on digital photography.
- She influenced by a diverse range of photographers including Gregory Crewdson, Tina Barney, Jonathan Torgovnik, Raja Deen Dayal, and Bourne & Shepard.
- Her photographs are a subversive commentary on established traditions in Indian art, placing heroic figures from Indian mythology in wholly modern environments like hotel rooms, cars or school plays.
- Valli has been showing her work publicly since 2007 and is currently represented by Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai, India.
- Read some reviews and interviews with Nandini
“Fantasy or reality, the trained eye of this artist capture the nuances of life in breathtaking detail. The juxtaposition of the pinks against the blues, and the vivid imagery, all work in conformity to provide a fascinating insight into Nandini Valli Muthiah’s world where traditional concepts are constantly tweaked and twisted in a contemporary perspective.”