Born and raised in India, Shailee Mehta is currently a student at the Slade School of Fine Art finishing her BFA in painting. She finished her foundation at University of Arts London in 2016 and since then has participated in group shows in London (STOMACH, Hoxton Arches Gallery 2017, Interim Show, Slade Research Centre 2018) and India (The Daly College, 2016). She has been a corollary to artists like Nikhil Chopra and Douglas White, assisting them with their projects through research or assistance. Her onward travels to India include an artists residency in Mumbai (Space 118) where she will be working on expanding her practice into sculpture and installation.
About the project (Title: “रात गई बात गई” // “The night was, the words were”)
Living in London through my formative years while having a deep affinity to my roots, my practice has been fabricated with ideas of displacement, home, desire and identity. At AIRgentum, my paintings and drawings mainly investigated concepts of comfort and surreality in the form of dystopia.
Before my visit to Spain, I had been researching the aesthetics of Mughal miniatures, Joan Miro and his “detailist” period, Frida Kahlo and her association to magic realism while reading Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and his thoughts on memories and daydreams. This created the foundation for the way I started using space in my paintings, a flattened occurring in time, lacking in scale and perspective. Formally speaking, the medium itself fed into the way I see time, layered with silent washes.
Using domestic environments such as a bathrooms and bedrooms and introducing elements of nature that we usually like to keep at bay, the painting becomes a displaced landscape. Spiders, mosquitoes, moths, hair in food, multiplication of objects and presence of nature in its fluid form, all suggest a sense of discomfort and delayed time. These works are quite inspired from the expansiveness of the landscape on the edges of Castilblanco and question the notion of home and our ways of customising nature for comfort. Painting half eaten peaches on used napkins, for example, was an attempt to research intimacy in an unusual manner, adding to the binaries of the domestic and the natural I am investigating at the moment.