BARCELONA – Indian artist Nalini Malani has won the seventh edition of the Joan Miro Prize, an international award that comes with a 70,000-euro ($78,000) cash prize and is considered one of the most prestigious art awards in the world.
Malani (born in Karachi in 1946), a film, photography, installation, video art and performance artist, was delighted to receive an award that bears the name of an artist she admires greatly and has been influenced by throughout her career, the artist said at the awards ceremony.
“The jury acknowledged her longstanding commitment to the silenced and the dispossessed all over the world, most particularly women, through a complex artistic quest based on immersive installations and a personal iconography where a profound knowledge of ancient mythologies converges with a bold condemnation of contemporary injustices,” the Joan Miro Foundation said.
When she received her award alongside the director of the Joan Miro Foundation Marko Daniel and the director general of the Caixa Foundation, Elisa Duran, Malani was visibly taken aback with emotion as she reminisced about her first encounter with Miro in the early 1970s when she was studying in Paris.
Since that meeting, she said, she has considered him a man of incredible generosity with respect to future generations, and as someone with a fascinating body of work that she has been influenced by and from whom she had learned a lot.
She also recalled how at the time of their encounter she was a very young artist, barely 23 years old, that she was very shy and that she was embarrassed to approach him.
Of the Catalan artist’s technique, she noted that Miro never used horizontal lines and that his work was like a meeting point between East and West.
Malani, who was born under the British Indian Empire, grew up between Kolkata and Mumbai after her family was forced into exile after the Partition of India.
Her work is heavily influenced by the socio-political context in which she grew up and offers an exploration of that history from a female perspective.
Malani is set to exhibit her work for the first time in Spain with a 2020 exhibition at the Miro Foundation, a space that by the artist’s own account fascinates her.
I would like each space in the foundation to have a different piece, she said, and that the works connect via illustrated murals that will serve as a thematic thread as if the whole exhibition were a novel written in chapters.
The creator of often complex and immersive installations also said that if people experienced life with art under their skin then many of the world’s problems would have solutions.
Without art, there is boredom, and with boredom, violence, the artist mused.
In her home country, where many people don’t visit galleries nor museums, Malani has resorted to producing plays, which have proved popular.
In these plays that she records and then projects as if they were movies, Malani takes on social and political issues, such as the threat of nuclear weaponry, and the lack of gender equality in India.
Malani is a well-known artist who has had past shows at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, New York’s MoMA and the Stedelijk in Amsterdam.
The jury of the Joan Miro prize included Iwona Blazwick, Alfred Pacquement, Magnus af Petersens, Joao Ribas, Nimfa Bisbe and Marko Daniel awarded Malani the prize by unanimity.
The Joan Miro prize is granted by the Joan Miro Foundation and the La Caixa Foundation.