// STATEMENT //
The multi-layered artwork I make is a commentary on the human condition and the environment we inhabit. Themes in identity, personal history, gender constructs, socio-political order and colonial history are depicted and debated in my layered artistic interventions that employ drawing, found objects, text, photo and installation. In a contemporary re-imagining of the ‘exquisite corpse’ genre, I oftentimes re-purpose collected antiquarian objects, imagery and texts along with my own drawings to render an altered visual engagement.
In my visual vocabulary the human form is intertwined with that of nature. Nature/land/landscape is seen as a metaphor for the body (and vice-versa) and as a site for germination, nourishment, degradation, trespass, plunder, colonization and transgression. My influences include history, myth, the natural world, medieval illustration, religious iconography and mystical philosophies.
As an Indian artist living in New York for more than a decade, my work oftentimes speaks of dislocation and migration. Migration has spanned the last four generations in my family. I spent my early childhood on a ship and have later lived on three different continents. My work examines what it means to be rooted in a constant state of flux. As an incorrigible collector, my collections (of antiquarian maps, books, engravings and vintage objects) and my resultant artworks, give me a sense of permanence and points of reference in my shifting physical and emotional geographies.
// BIO //
Samanta Batra Mehta was born in New Delhi, India, raised in Bombay, India and lives in New York, USA. Her work has been exhibited at various international venues including at the Queens Museum of the Arts, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts and Aicon Gallery in New York, the Hunterdon Museum and the Visual Arts Center in New Jersey, the Taubman Museum of Art in Virgina, and Artopia, Milan, among others. In 2010 she was invited by Galerie LMD, Paris to exhibit her work and make a 24 foot long site-specific mural at the Salon Du Dessin Contemporain, held at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. Her work was included in the ‘Reading Room’, a Partner Exhibition at the Kochi Biennale 2014 in Kochi, India. The exhibition traveled to the Alliance Francaise Delhi and at Winchester School of Art, United Kingdom in 2015.
Samanta’s work has been showcased by galleries at leading art fairs including at Art Stage, Singapore (2010), India Art Fair, New Delhi (2011-2016), Bologna Arte Fiere 2013, Art Basel Hong Kong in 2014 and 2015 and Art Dubai (2016).
Her first solo, ’Cabinet of Curiosities’, with Shrine Empire, New Delhi in 2014 was nominated for the Forbes India Art Award in the ‘Best Debut Solo’ category. It received critical acclaim in Art India Magazine, TAKE on Art Magazine and Art Asia Pacific Magazine. Her second solo ‘The Journey of Secrets’, was at Sakshi Art Gallery, Mumbai in 2015, and was featured in a solo interview with Bloomberg TV, in the Aspire segment (August 2015). Her third solo project, ‘The Crucible of Fantasy’ was with Shrine Empire Gallery, presented at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015, in the “Discoveries” section. This exhibition received critical acclaim in Asia’s leading art journal, ‘Art Asia Pacific’ (Volk, July-August 2015).
In 2015, Samanta was commissioned for a 40 piece art installation by the Jindal Steel Mills in India. Her works are included in several collections including in the collection of the prestigious Fondazione Fotografia Cassa di Risparmio di Modena in Italy, the RPG Group, India, The Jindal Collection, India, the Birla Art Foundation, India. In 2012 the Fondazione Fotographia showcased her work in at their museum in Modena, Italy in a landmark exhibition curated by Filippo Maggia, titled 'Tenth Parallel North: Contemporary Photography from India and South America' (Decimo Parallelo Nord: Fotografia Contemporanea da India e Sudamerica).
Her work has been profiled in several publications, including the New York Times (Genoccio, 2008). Recent publications include, ‘Contemporary Photography from India and South America’: The Tenth Parallel North' [Hardcover] by Filippo Maggia, Claudia Fini, Francesca Lazzarini (Skira, 2012). In January 2016, Elle Magazine India named Samanta as “one of the artists to catch” at the upcoming India Art Fair along with stalwarts in the art field.
Samanta was awarded the prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation's 2014-2015 Painters & Sculptors Grant Award for outstanding artistic achievement.