Rajkamal Kahlon sees painting as a form of care work – done in the service and from a sense of responsibility and care toward others – and her practice aims at complicating and resisting the ways in which painting is often reduced into a luxury good.
She starts her works with a critical examination of the archives, historical documents and literature of colonialism, which she overlays with drawings and paintings of people otherwise subjected to their colonial gaze. Through this process, drawing and painting become sites of political and aesthetic resistance, and the violence inherent in colonial and ethnographic images is confronted with beauty, humor, sensuality and seduction. The appropriation and radical transformation of colonial imagery subverts the hierarchy between an ethnographer or anthropologist and its ‘passive’ subjects and traces a clear line between the past and present-day imperialism and orientalism. The resulting works explore both the complicity on part of the reader/viewer and the way in which depicted racialized, gendered, and indigenous communities can reassert their resistance, strength, and dignity.
Rajkamal Kahlon’s solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien will give an overview of over twenty years of her artistic practice, and present new projects that continue her research of the representational violence of European colonial endeavors and Western knowledge production.