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Estimate: $ 30,000 - $ 40,000
MEQUITTA AHUJA (1976 - ) Bramble.
Oil on cotton canvas, 2009. 1524x1270 mm; 60x50 inches. Signed and dated in ink (twice), lower right verso.
Provenance: private collection, Virginia.
Exhibited: Artist Pension Trust, 28 Liberty Street, New York, 2018.
Bramble is an excellent example of Mequitta Ahuja's innovative approach to self-portraiture, investigating ideas of feminism, historical forms of painting, myth and representation. Bramble was part of Ahuja's submission when she was awarded a 2009 Painters and Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. In 2009-10, she was also an artist-in-resident at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Of South Asian and African American descent, Ahuja confronts the viewer and the artworld in her daring Bramble. She portrays herself as a defiant, heroic figure, wielding a sword and rising above a bramble of abstraction. While boldly taking on the world of painting and the historical representation of women, Ahuja makes the narrative her own. The artist's statement solidifies this mission, "I show a woman-of-color articulating her own story and the story of painting. As a female artist of color, I have internalized the expectation that I should mine my personal experiences as case studies in the social conditions of race, class and gender. I both accept and step beyond that expectation. I aim to hold and embody in my worth the politics of identity as well as the function of self-portraiture exemplified by Poussin's 1650 self-portrait: displaying authoirty within the history and discipline of painting." Ahuja's cross cultural paintings combine diverse art historical sources such as Egyptian forms, Giotto frescoes, Hindu figurations and Mughal miniatures. Turning the narrative of portrait painting on its head, Ahuja's practice also challenges the traditions of Western art. She develops her self-portraits through a process of discovery, developing her character through performance, including costumes, props, and photography before painting.
The artist is the recipient of the 2018 Guggenheim fellowship award. Her paintings have been exhibited internationally, most recently in Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modern Tradition at the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Her work is in many institutional collections including the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She earned a BA degree from Hampshire College in 1998, and an MFA from the University of Illinois. She lives and works in Weston, CT, and Baltimore, MD.