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.
Fall 2020 Kirloskar Visiting Scholars
For the seventh year of the program, RISD welcomed artists Salman Toor and Chitra Ganesh to engage with the RISD community as the 2020/21 Kirloskar Visiting Scholars in Painting. Due to travel and gathering restrictions, events took place online, with the artists offering virtual lectures and studio critiques.
New York-based artist Salman Toor is noted internationally for making work rich with art-historical references, evocative color motifs and narrative intimacy drawn from personal experience.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—Salman Toor: How Will I Know?—which opened mid November 2020 at the Whitney in NYC. “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.”
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—and inaugural Kirloskar Visiting Scholar in 2014—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.
“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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.