Academics Painting

Kirloskar Visiting Scholar

MacArthur-winning alum Shahzia Sikander and a RISD student discuss student work during a studio visit

In 2013 Vikram and Geetanjali Kirloskar established the Kirloskar Visiting Scholar in Painting program with the goal of exploring, strengthening and developing dialogue that connects RISD with South Asia-based artists and practices. Each year Professor Dennis Congdon 75 PT and the RISD Kirloskar Advisory Group select established and rising scholars to give lectures, serve as guest teachers or lead longer residencies here.

Spring 2022 Kirloskar Visiting Scholar

Huma Bhahba

This year’s Kirloskar Visiting Scholar is acclaimed artist and RISD alumna Huma Bhabha 85 PR, who makes objects, drawings and other works that depict the strangeness and vulnerability of the contemporary figure. Borrowing from ancient and modern cultural sources alike, her hybridized forms exude pathos and humor, going straight to the heart of the most pressing issues of our time. Bhabha’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions around the world, including at MoMA, the Aspen Art Museum, the Biennale of Sydney and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

watch event recording

Kirloskar Visiting Scholar Asim Waqif and RISD students build wooden structure together during workshop

“The Kirloskar grant has moved RISD Painting to invite artists and scholars whose work across disciplines—and continents—offers our students and communities fresh thinking and wider horizons, at home and abroad. Kirloskar support has fostered new work, new liaisons and new avenues of study.”

– Painting Professor Dennis Congdon

Past Kirloskar Scholars

Chitra Ganesh | fall 2020 / fall 2014

Through her drawing-based creative practice, Chitra Ganesh explores ideas of femininity, sexuality and power—and in doing so confronts their absence from a wide range of literary and artistic canons. Among several mediums, genres and pictorial forms, the New York-based artist incorporates comics, science fiction and Hindu and Buddhist iconography, and roots her work in her scholarly background in literature, semiotics and social theory. Ganesh’s work is exhibited widely and held in several permanent collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art.

watch Ganesh’s 2020 Kirloskar artist talk

Salman Toor | fall 2020

New York-based artist Salman Toor is noted internationally for making work rich with art-historical references, evocative color motifs and narrative intimacy drawn from personal experience. Born in Pakistan, Toor portrays in his paintings “the imagined lives of young, queer Brown men residing between New York City and South Asia," as put by the curators of the artist’s first museum solo show—The Whitney’s fall 2020–spring 2021 exhibition Salman Toor: How Will I Know?. “Taken as a whole,” the museum adds, “Toor’s paintings consider vulnerability within contemporary public and private life and the notion of community in the context of queer, diasporic identity.”

watch Toor’s Kirloskar artist talk

Asim Waqif | 2018/19

Based in Delhi, Asim Waqif (also pictured in above photo, left) is a multidisciplinary artist whose work spans architecture, art and design, and frequently engages with the politics of public space. Trained in architecture before dedicating himself to studio practice, Waqif situates several of his projects within abandoned and decaying structures, creating inside them hidden activity-spaces for marginalized peoples. He also weaves ecological and anthropological themes into his work and is especially interested in issues related to water, waste and architecture.

watch Waqif’s 2018 lecture, Strategies for Disruption

Pallavi Paul | 2017/18

Through a poetic engagement with the mediums of video, performance and installation, Pallavi Paul explores cultural histories and the epistemological limits of speculation and evidence. Her work reflects an interest in the archive and tensions between the document and documentary—which in the artist’s creative practice becomes a genre of “resistance [and] possibility.” Based in New Delhi, Paul exhibits her work worldwide in venues including Tate Modern in London and the Beirut [Lebanon] Art Centre.”

watch Paul’s 2017 lecture, Documentary Proof that Leaves No Reason for Doubt

Shahzia Sikander | 2016/17

Taking traditional forms of making as a conceptual point of departure, RISD alumna Shahzia Sikander MFA 95 PT/PR (also pictured in top photo, right) works across several mediums to push the possibilities of visual expression. Currently based in NYC, in 2006 the Pakistani-born artist won a MacArthur “genius grant” and, in 2012, she was the inaugural recipient of the US Department of State Medal of Arts. “For me art is not just an impulse to make aesthetically pleasing objects,” says Sikander, whose work is widely exhibited and collected around the world. “It has been from the very beginning an instinct to think and imagine.”

watch Sikander in conversation with Rick Lowe and Julie Mehretu MFA 97 PT/PR 

Raqs Media Collective | spring 2015

Founded in 1992, the Raqs Media Collective works across mediums and scales in an effort to shift perceptions, asking viewers to look at the familiar world as if for the first time. The trio of Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta draws deeply from the urban context of their New Delhi base, but also from a broad interest in global myths and histories, toward a critical engagement with power and modernity. They exhibit and curate shows throughout the world and served as artistic directors for the Yokohama [Japan] Triennale in 2020.

read more about Raqs Media Collective’s 2015 Kirloskar residency at RISD