Recently, Nalini Malani was announced as the 2019 winner of the seventh Joan Miró Prize presented by the Fundació Joan Miró and La Caixa Foundation, a segment of a bank in Spain. Malani was selected by a jury consisting of Nimfa Bisbe (head of the La Caixa Foundation contemporary art collection), Iwona Blazwick (director of the Whitechapel Gallery), Marko Daniel (director of the Fundació Joan Miró), Martina Millà, Alfred Pacquement (director of the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou), Magnus af Petersens (director of the Bonniers Konsthall), and João Ribas (curator for the Portuguese pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale). As the winner, Maliani will receive €70,000 and will feature in a 2020 solo exhibition at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona.
In a statement, the jury found Maliani’s body of work to be ‘impressive’ and one ‘that engages viewers through complex, immersive installations that present her vision of the battered world we live in. Her interest in ancient mythology, both Greek and Indian, as well as in modern symbols and image-making, has allowed her to develop a very personal, cosmopolitan iconographic mingling that boldly denounces contemporary violence and injustice, and their effects on planetary life.’ They also acknowledged her commitment to representing the ‘silenced’ as well as the ‘dispossessed’ individuals throughout the world through her work.
After she was born in 1946, Malani’s family sought exile after the Partition of India and she grew up in Kolkata and Mumbai. Her family’s background, colonialism, and living through the British Indian Empire and its aftermath acted as a catalyst for her work through which she explores notions for female subjectivity and human existence. Today, Malani works within a number of mediums including film, installations, and photography in Mumbai, where she lives and works today to ‘make sense of the feelings of loss, exile, and nostalgia’ that she, her family, and many others endured.
At the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Mumbai, Malani studied fine arts and then between 1970 and 1972, she lived in Paris on a government scholarship. Since then, she has received the St. Moritz Art Masters Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and the Asian Art Game Changers Award in 2016. She was also the first Asian woman to receive the Arts & Culture Fukuoka Prize in 2013. Malani has held solo exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, the Castello di Rivoli, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, the Stedelijk Museum, Irish Museum of Modern Art, and the Kiran Nadar Museum.
Past recipients of the award are: Olafur Eliasson (2007); Pipilotti Rist (2009); Mona Hatoum (2011); Roni Horn (2013); Ignasi Aballí (2015); and Kader Attia (2017).