The Guyana-born artist explores how memory, myth, and oral traditions can be used to unravel colonial and patriarchal narratives. Drawing from European tapestry traditions, Indian miniature painting, and other craft-based traditions like embroidery and weaving, she imagines a “future space” where new mythologies are formed to celebrate and monumentalize the experiences and labor of brown women. Mattai’s great-grandparents were brought from the state of Uttar Pradesh, India to Guyana, South America as indentured laborers under British colonial rule. Mattai learned sewing, embroidering, and other techniques from her grandmothers and, with every strip of fabric, she meditates on the lives of her maternal lineage.
For Art Basel Miami Beach 2023, Roberts Projects is pleased to present a tightly curated selection of works that challenge the prevalence of linear narratives, including Mattai’s mixed-media sculpture work Re-Union. Alongside Mattai, Roberts Projects will be highlighting other new and emerging voices, such as Wangari Mathenge, Mia Middleton and Justin Williams, and diverse works from established artists including Amoako Boafo, Jeffrey Gibson, Betye Saar and Kehinde Wiley, among others. Connecting the works on view is a profound use of storytelling which thematically explores relationships between history, memory, performance and imagination.
Mattai’s Re-Union reflects on the complex layers that constitute one’s identity. Through braided and woven saris from India and the United States, the work depicts “twin” girls who have found and made peace with one another. Alluding to the tradition of transforming discarded scraps into braided rugs, Re-Union connects American and diasporic communities while remaining rooted in Mattai’s South Asian and Caribbean heritage. The artwork references the bond formed between mother and daughter through hair braiding and the ability to “create something from nothing” that characterizes diasporic identity. Through color, texture, pattern and form, the work designates the domestic sphere as a meaningful site for reconciling the overlap of culturally significant practices between the West and the global South.
About the artist
Suchitra Mattai (b.1973 Georgetown, Guyana) received an MFA in painting and drawing and an MA in South Asian art from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Her work explores how memory, myth, and oral traditions can be used to unravel colonial and patriarchal narratives. Drawing from European tapestry traditions, Indian miniature painting, and other craft-based traditions like embroidery and weaving, she imagines a “future space” where new mythologies are formed to celebrate and monumentalize the experiences and labor of brown women.Recent projects include group exhibitions at the MCA Chicago, ICA Boston, Crystal Bridges Museum, Akron Art Museum, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Sarasota Art Museum, the Sharjah Biennial, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Tampa Museum of Art, the MCA Denver, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and solo exhibitions at the Boise Museum of Art and MSU Denver. Upcoming projects include solo exhibitions at the ICA San Francisco, The Tampa Museum of Art, Socrates Sculpture Park and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her works are represented in collections which include the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Joslyn Museum, the Nasher Museum, the Portland Museum of Art (Maine), the Shah Garg Collection, the Jorge Perez Collection, the Tia Collection and the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Suchitra is also a recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.