Manuka Arts Centre www.photoaccess.org.au
HUW DAVIES GALLERY
Media release 10 October 2007
Les bleues et les rouges by Payal Sehgal Mahajan
Payal Sehgal Mahajan’s Les bleues et les rouges will show in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY
at PhotoAccess, Manuka Arts Centre, from 18 October to 4 November 2007.
Denise Ferris—artist, educator and Chair of PhotoAccess—will open the exhibition at 6 pm on Thursday 18 October.
Last year Payal Sehgal Mahajan and her family moved to a 1930s house in the old Canberra suburb of Kingston—a turning point for Payal in many ways.
Worn carpet was pulled up revealing 1950s copies of The Australian Women’s Weekly. This serendipitous moment led Payal to a creative investigation of her identity as a woman. Early examples were La Femme En Rouge I, II and III, beautiful, enigmatic images shown in Access all areas 2006, the PhotoAccess Members’ Show. Les bleues et les rouges is a further outcome of that journey of self-discovery as is the manuscript for a novel, Interspersed.
Payal Sehgal Mahajan has a long association with PhotoAccess, including two previous solo exhibitions. She has contributed impressive work to many group shows. Les bleues et les rouges is her most ambitious show and the most intimate and personal work she has produced.
Because photography was able to produce less expensive likenesses, its advent in the early nineteenth century had a significant impact on portraiture. Painters lost commissions to photographers and had to redefine their interest in the portrait. Portrait artists now strive to reveal the quintessence of a sitter, the psychological or other truth behind the face and figure.
Many contemporary photographers—for example Australian Tracey Moffatt, Americans Cindy Sherman and Catherine Opie, Yasumasa Morimura from Japan—use dress and setting to reflect aspects of our cultural or historical experience. Their self-portraits speak of the artist’s view of the world; identifying the artists themselves and their place in it is difficult.
Payal Sehgal Mahajan’s cool blue and rich red images are pure self-portraits, made without disguise, free of hubris and preaching. They show a woman in the throes of seeking or perhaps reeling from the emerging truth of her identity. The chair, their unifying element, is a stage for the writhing, painful progress of the journey, a journey well illustrated by this excerpt from Interspersed: ‘… she drew the curtains tighter and when a streak of light threatened to slice through an opening she viciously forbade it any access, firmly shutting the curtains of her eyes to ensure that that which was out there could never find its way back to her and into her heart.’
Payal Sehgal Mahajan was a 2007 PhotoAccess artist in residence. PhotoAccess was very pleased to have experienced aspects of this journey with her, and delighted to show Les bleues et les rouges in the HUW DAVIES GALLERY at the Manuka Arts Centre.
PhotoAccess and the HUW DAVIES GALLERY are open Tuesday to Sunday, 11–5 in the Manuka Arts Centre, corner Manuka Circle and NSW Crescent (near Manuka Oval), Griffith.
Further information: David Chalker 02 6295 7810
Supported by the ACT and Commonwealth Governments