sepiaEYE is pleased to present The Treasure Maps of PAMELA SINGH. Comprised of five bodies of work that span a period of 20 years, Pamela Singh’s photographs form an extended, entrancing journal tantamount to a waking dream, a search for affirmation of self within our perceived yet speculative world.
Singh’s images combine self-portraiture with reflective contemplation and ethereal transformation. From her beginnings in documentary photography at ICP in New York her work reflects her lifelong quest for spirituality as seen in the glowing and emotive series, Tantric Self Portraits (2001-2001).
The large-scale photographs have a luminous quality with lush color hand- applied in oil, acrylic, vermillion, mud, and gold. Glimpses of Singh’s scarf or her dress can be seen alongside wrestlers, architectural elements and astronomical instruments each adorned with blessings, chants, and religious symbols. Tantric Self Portraits introduces her fascination with the tradition of 19th century Rajasthani painted photographs and that originate from the region she still calls home.
In a review of Tantric Self Portraits, Roberta Smith states, “. . . the best [images] possess an entrancing nocturnal luminosity and combine the stylized naturalism of Indian miniatures with the symbolic geometry of Tantric art, while adding touches of contemporary self-awareness and humor.” (New York Times, June 1, 2001)
In the mid-90s, Singh affixed a rear-view mirror to her camera so that she could capture herself and her surroundings within the frame. In this “pre- selfie” world, she spent her days wandering through the maze of the city, inserting herself within the daily life of the townspeople. A large body of work from this period is printed as black-and-white, gelatin silver prints.
Her most recent exploration of this process, Treasure Maps painted in 2014-15, but photographed in the mid-90’s, features a subtle layering of paint and a muted palette. Utilizing the traditional painting techniques used by local miniature painters, Singh’s photographs sprout magical enhancements, religious iconography, and colorful details. What were once photographs are now bejeweled narratives of her enchanted world.
Over the last few years Singh has documented her wanderings through Italy, Brazil and India with each locale becoming a backdrop for her performances. She whirls and writhes in private settings and explores the monumental city streets. Her presence is felt directly in this series with action and movement— she welcomes us into her life, mind and journey.
Born in New Delhi, India in 1962, Singh attended Parsons School of Design, New York, in 1982 and The American College, Paris, in 1983. She has also worked as a photojournalist, with her images appearing in The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Sunday Times of London, Paris Match, and others.
Pamela Singh’s work is shown internationally, most recently in Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh at the Whitechapel Gallery, London and at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2010) and in Embellished Reality, Royal Ontario Museum of Art, Toronto, Canada (2012). Her work is held in the permanent collections of The Art Complex Museum of Duxbury, The Daimler Contemporary in Germany, The Sackler Freer Museums at the Smithsonian, The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and The Ackland Museum of Art at The University of North Carolina, as well as in many private collections worldwide.
May 8 – July 17, 2015
The Treasure Maps of Pamela Singh
Press Release (PDF)
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 7th, 6-8 pm
Conversation with the Artist: Thursday, June 25, 6-8 pm
Please join us for a reception and Skype conversation with the artist Pamela Singh and Nathaniel Stein, Associate Curator of Photography at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Reception from 6-8, Conversation from 7 pm.
547 West 27th Street, #608, New York, NY 10001