The National Gallery has announced that Nalini Malani is the first artist to receive the first Contemporary Fellowship awarded by the National Gallery, and supported by Art Fund.

Nalini Malani, Studio Bombay. Photo: Johan Pijnappel  © Nalini Malani

This new fellowship is a collaboration with a non-London collecting institution, which this year is the Holburne Museum, Bath.The fellowship 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 and is part of the National Gallery’s contemporary programme.

The Contemporary Fellowship involves a two year research, production, and exhibition programme which will allow Nalini Malani to work in collaboration with specialists from the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum. She will be able to study the institutions and their collections and to create new art for an exhibition in Bath and London during 2022–23. The research and production process and final artworks will be documented in a publication and the Holburne Museum will have the opportunity to acquire a work which has been created as part of the Fellowship.

Nalini Malani lives and works in Mumbai, India. Having graduated from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai, in 1969, her practice began with experimental film and photography. From the late 1980s onward, Malani’s work increasingly questioned conventional painting traditions; reaching a wider audience and consistently speaking up against the rise of political oppression. 

As an artist who pioneered video art in India, she has created works such as mmersive installations, theatre, ephemeral wall drawings, erasure performances and her signature ‘shadow plays’. Her artworks focus on themes of transnational politics, the ramifications of globalisation, and the critical examination of gender role.

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. 

Nalini Malani says: It’s a great honour to be selected, by this international committee, to become the inaugural National Gallery Contemporary Fellow. This two-year programme, is a unique challenge to research and create conversations with the collections and the teams of the National Gallery and the Holburne Museum. Cross-cultural/historical dialogues have been the basis of my art making for fifty years. All the more today I feel it is a pressing necessity as Our Stories have to be Retold, to give us a chance to become a more humane society.’

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London, commented: ‘I am thrilled that Nalini Malani will be the Gallery’s first Contemporary Fellowship artist and I look forward to the interaction we at the National Gallery and at the Holburne Museum in Bath will have with such a distinguished artist over the next two years. Malani’s reflections on the iconography of myth, history and politics in the National Gallery will surely be highly compelling.’