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First Images of Artist Nalini Malani’s New Exhibition: Redefining the Moving Image in an Immersive 40-metre Animation Panorama

The first-ever National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship exhibition opens at the Holburne Museum, Bath.
1881: Nalini Malani in front of her new work My Reality is Different, 2022 

The first images have been released of new video animations featuring famous paintings in the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum, Bath, created by Nalini Malani, the first artist to receive the National Gallery’s Contemporary Fellowship, supported by Art Fund. 

With a fierce commitment to pushing boundaries and experimenting and exploring the possibilities of the moving image, Nalini Malani has created a deep black exhibition space in the Holburne Museum, Bath, opening tomorrow, with one monumental artwork, My Reality is Different

0892: Nalini Malani My Reality is Different, 2022 

Encompassing over 40 meters of wall, the 25 striking new animations immerse the viewer in a panorama of nine large video projections, played in a continuous loop. These animations are based on an idiosyncratic selection by Malani from famous paintings in the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum. 

Pictures by Caravaggio and Bronzino in the National Gallery’s collection, and by Jan van der Venne and Johann Zoffany in the collection of the Holburne Museum, Bath, have inspired the animations in an exhibition which, following its opening at the Holburne Museum, Bath, on 7 October 2022, moves to the National Gallery next year.  

Classical stories have been transformed by playful hand-drawn animations, made using an iPad, that reveal and conceal different aspects of the paintings in both collections to rediscover them from an alternative, and critical point of view.

0058: Nalini Malani My Reality is Different, 2022 

By overlapping the nine video projections and showing the animations of different length in a loop without syncing them, Malani has chosen to go beyond the Western linear view. As a result, there is an endless change of juxtapositions and interaction of the images, allowing the spectator to co-create their own meanings. 

Embodying the role of the artist as a social activist, Malani puts the Western Canon under pressure in these animations where traditional art history and its European figures are no longer the only source of meaning. 

4031: Nalini Malani My Reality is Different, 2022 

The title of the exhibition, Nalini Malani: My Reality is Different – National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship with Art Fund, is drawn from a phrase often associated with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in which the Cheshire Cat is claimed to have said: ‘I’m not crazy, my reality is different from yours.’

The project is the culmination of Nalini Malani’s selection in 2020 as the first artist to receive the National Gallery’s Contemporary Fellowship, supported by Art Fund. The two-year research and production programme has allowed Malani to work in close collaboration with specialists from both the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum in Bath to study the institutions and their collections, with the aim to create a new artwork.

As well as the sequences inspired by the paintings, Malani has made fictitious portraits of the marginalised in society, that appear in between the animations. The faces of these people, whose labour underpins the economies that connect us across the globe, disappear behind colourful candlestick stock-market charts, and graphic examples of the complex financial systems.

The final artwork will be documented in a fully illustrated 144-page hard-cover catalogue, published after the Holburne Museum opening, with newly commissioned articles by Mieke Bal, Will Cooper, Zehra Jumabhoy, Daniel Herrmann, Nalini Malani and Priyesh Mistry.

1943: Nalini Malani in front of her new work My Reality is Different, 2022

The new National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship with Art Fund is a pioneering, peer-to-peer collaboration with a non-London collecting institution. The Fellowship, which is awarded to an artist of international standing and renown with a major body of work that has significantly contributed to 20th and 21st century art, is part of the National Gallery’s Contemporary Programme, sponsored by Hiscox.

The National Gallery Contemporary Fellowship is supported by Art Fund, which enabled an open call to public collecting institutions outside London to become the partner institution. The National Gallery’s Modern and Contemporary Advisory Panel selected the Holburne Museum in Bath as the partner institution for the inaugural Fellowship. The Holburne Museum will have the opportunity to acquire a work which has been created as part of the Fellowship.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London, says: ’Nalini Malani fixes her gaze on paintings from the western canon in the National Gallery and in our partner museum, The Holburne in Bath, to offer a visually striking multi-layered critique of the tradition they represent and many of the assumptions that underpin it.’

My Reality is Different
Nalini Malani

Dr Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum, Bath, says: ‘It is a great honour for the Holburne to have been selected as the inaugural partner in the National Gallery’s Contemporary Fellowship programme and to be working with an artist of Nalini Malani’s stature. I cannot think of a more appropriate artist to engage with the Holburne’s eclectic collection that is replete with transnational stories and conversations. We are deeply grateful to the National Gallery, Art Fund and, of course, Nalini for this wonderful opportunity.’

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund, says: ‘Our public collections have an enduring power to inspire, as demonstrated by Nalini Malani’s artistic transformations of greatly loved works from the National Gallery and Holburne Museum. Collaboration between museums is more important than ever post pandemic, and we are delighted that audiences in both Bath and London will be able to enjoy new work by such an exceptional international artist.’
Daniel F. Herrmann, National Gallery Curator of Modern and Contemporary Projects, says: ’While criticising a Western male hegemony, from the perspective of a Cassandra, Malani’s animation chamber, as she calls this form of art, never sacrifices the beauty and the aesthetics in her all-inspiring alternative new visions of the world. With My Reality is Different, Malani activates Western cultural memory to take a contemporary responsibility by making an unusual form of new art in dialogue with the art of the past.’

Nalini Malani is the first artist to be chosen for this Fellowship which has been created as part of the Gallery’s Modern and Contemporary Programme.

The National Gallery’s Contemporary Fellowship is supported by Art Fund, with additional support from Dasha Shenkman OBE.

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