Photopolymer etching on Velin Arches Blanc paper
Paper size 56 x 59cm
Image size 47 x 50cm
Edition of 60, signed and numbered
About the work
Mequitta Ahuja has created Cradle, 2022, especially for Whitechapel Gallery to accompany the exhibition ‘A Century of The Artist’s Studio: 1920 – 2020’, 24 February – 5 June 2022.
Cradle, 2022 portrays a woman holding a baby, herself cradled against the body of another woman. Ahuja has repeated this image in several iterations, basing on it a recent body of work, collectively titled Ma, which encapsulates her experience of becoming a mother just as her own mother was dying. In Cradle, 2022, Ahuja takes up the central image of the Western figurative tradition, the mother and child. By reversing the narrative of the Pieta, she depicts the continuity of love through the generations.
About the artist
Mequitta Ahuja (b. 1976 Baltimore, MD, USA; lives and works in Baltimore) is a contemporary figurative painter with African American and Indian American roots. Ahuja explores in her work both the politics of personal identity and the wider function of self-portraiture in Western genre painting, referencing historic figures like Poussin, Velasquez and her mentor Kerry James Marshall. In her large figurative paintings, described as ‘pictures within pictures’, she simplifies form and includes common motifs and tropes of the tradition; hand gestures, swags of fabric, meeting the viewer's gaze, creased paper presented as trompe l'oeil, architecture that frames a narrative, one-point perspective and the allegorical figure. She bridges these art historical references with personal autobiography, presenting the daily activities of an artist in her studio space from the physical work of painting and handling canvases to the subject reading and writing.
Recent exhibitions include The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, MCA Chicago, The Phillips Collection, DC and The Brooklyn Museum Ahuja is the recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim fellowship. Her works have been acquired by Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
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