Biswas, S., Biswas-Rodgers, S., 2021.
Lumen: Sutapa Biswas
|16/10/2021 - 30/1/2022
|Number of Works:
Major solo exhibition.
Details of my solo exhibition from the Kettle's Yard Press Release: "Kettle's Yard is pleased to announce a major solo exhibition of Sutapa Biswas (b. 1962, Santiniketan, India) which will include an important selection of works from throughout the artist's four-decade career, as well as a major new film commission. A companion exhibition will take place at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in 2021. This will be the most significant presentation of Biswas' work in seventeen years.
The exhibition at Kettle's Yard surveys Biswas' wide-ranging practice, from early works on paper to photography and moving image that explore belonging, beauty and power. Born in India and raised in the UK, Biswas played an important role in anti-racist activism in the British artworld in the 1980s, appearing in landmark exhibitions such as The Thin Black Line, curated by Lubaina Himid at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1985. Biswas was active at the confluence of Black feminisms and the Black arts movement, and her work continues to explore race, gender and identity, as well as family, migration and history.
The works included in the exhibition at Kettle's Yard engage in different ways with the themes of family, memory, history and time - ideas that have long concerned Biswas, and which also animate the new film commission Lumen. At once explications of experiences of migration, and meditations on love, becoming and desire, Biswas' work explores fundamental aspects of being as well as the everyday and the banal.
Biswas' semi-fictional film 'Lumen' (2020-1), gives the exhibition its title and will show at Kettle's Yard and BALTIC. Filmed on location in India and England, 'Lumen' summons Biswas' maternal ancestors, through a monologue written by the artist, to retrace her own steps from Bengal. Using rich sound and colour, she evokes memories such as her view from the ship on the journey between Mumbai and Southampton. The artist's personal history overlaps with other maritime histories, from the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades, to post- emancipation British colonial trade and post-colonial migration. The work also implicates the film's three institutional supporters in these histories: it draws on the material resonances of maritime trade at Kettle's Yard, in the form of seventeenth-century delft tiles in the collection, as well as the long histories of transit associated with the Tyne, which flows adjacent to BALTIC. 'Lumen' was also part-filmed in the rich interiors of Red Lodge, Bristol Museums, that housed prominent Bristolians associated with the Slave Trade.
Sutapa Biswas will also partner with the Red Hen Project in North Cambridge on a series of events about literacy.
Accompanying the exhibition, the Research Space at Kettle's Yard, included a display of original historical archival material including sketch books, original letters / correspondences between Biswas many key figures within the art world such as Griselda Pollock, Lubaina Himid, James Lingwood, Iwona Blazwick, Sandy Nairne drawn from Sutapa Biswas's own personal extensive archive, drawings and photographs relating to Biswas's career, life and work over the past forty years.
Following on from Kettle's Yard's successful collaboration with the Red Hen Project in 2020 resulting in a new publication for children on Alfred Wallis, this new project will also produce a new children's book with Biswas' work at its centre."
My solo exhibition at Kettle's Yard and its accompanying solo exhibition at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, was widely reviewed including in the New York Times (Sunday 17 October, 2021) and the European publication of the NYT, the Financial Times (11 January, 2022), The Observer and The Guardian (17 October 2021), Art Monthly (June 2021), Studio International (24 June 2021), Elephant Magazine (16 July 2021), Trebuchet Magazine (19 June 2021), Something Curated (18 June 2021), amongst other publications and articles.