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UBS 12 × 12: New Artists/New Work
Mequitta Ahuja

Nov 5–27, 2005

As a biracial Asian-Indian and African-American woman, Ahuja explores the tensions and harmonies that coexist within her multi-racial identity in her exhibition Myth and Memory: Dancing on the Hide of Shere Khan. Blending techniques of Indian painting with Western devices, her paintings pair opposing elements: spatial depth and flatness, naive and trained aesthetics, part animal and part human forms. Her canvases of vivid color and thickly textured paint, inhabited by mythic beings, draw upon Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, whose main character, Mowgli, is a human raised by animals. As both insiders and outsiders, both the character and Ahuja question assumptions about human identity including issues of race, gender, and selfhood.

Ahuja’s combination of animal imagery, myths, and landscape from different cultures challenges our culture’s preoccupation with racial definitions and her own quest to define herself as an individual and as an artist. Her subjects assume a stance which embrace multiple identities and interpretations. She refuses to present a singular racial identity as well as a singular painting style. She blends forms, overlaps planes, and clashes techniques and subject matter within each painting and from one painting to the next.

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