Since Manish Nai lives and works in Mumbai, it might be tempting to interpret his dyed jute cloth works as a sort of visual synthesis of that city’s rhythmic, multi-layered environment. Yet, Nai himself has not made such a declaration. His purpose for making the works remains ambiguous—he untitled them, perhaps, so they can be free. Nai does, however, list the material he uses to make the work: jute.
Jute has been used in Southeast Asia for millennia to make rope, canvas, grain sacks and clothes. Its leaves are sometimes enjoyed as a potherb in soup. During colonial times, its forced cultivation enriched generations of British jute barons whose exploitative factories exported sacks to the cotton plantations of the American south and sandbags to the trenches of World War I. The whaling industry was also once tied to jute, as whale oil offers a perfect lubricant to prepare the fiber for machine processing. For Nai the material is personal—his parents worked in textiles, and when their business closed, leftover jute fabric stock filled the family apartment.
Compression is also an essential aspect of the work. This part of Nai's process relates to time, as well as to the methodical buildup of the result of human gestures. It is an expression of both materiality and process, and a statement of the accumulating results of persistence.
Artist Biography: Manish Nai was born in 1980 in Gujarat, India. He holds a Diploma in Drawing and Painting from the L.S. Raheja School of Art in Mumbai. Nai’s position – rooted in the treatment of materials that come from his immediate surroundings and environment – has emerged as one of the most unique and promising positions in art of the Indian subcontinent. His work has been shown in group exhibitions at the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum, Ahmadabad (2019), tthe NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2018), the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago (2018), and the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai (2018). He has participated in the 2nd edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala (2014) and The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, Rajasthan (2017-18). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Fondation Fernet Branca, St. Louis, France (2017) and Het Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, The Netherlands (2018). He lives and works in Mumbai.