NGV Triennial

Siji Krishnan
Father’s Portrait



Siji Krishnan foregrounds the interdependence of life, community and family in her exquisitely executed watercolour Father’s Portrait 2016. Having grown up in the countryside of southern India, she revisits childhood memories and early sensual impressions, such as the sounds of her village life and the fragrance of flowers.

Father’s Portrait is from a group of portraits the artist dedicated to her family. They function as manifestations of subjective remembrances, capturing moments of isolation and interaction. Rendered by processes of retrospection, her subjects are placed in rural settings that are reminiscent of her native village. They are united in lively get-togethers of different generations, with representatives of infancy, youth, adulthood and advanced age. Each family member is characterised through singular props, bearing distinct attributes of a trade or occupation.

To prepare the perfect ground for this panoramic display that spans over three meters, Krishnan layers and combines rice paper of varying thickness and texture. After numerous washings with watercolour, the paper achieves a suppleness, and a singular patina. On this smoothened surface, Krishnan paints with great delicacy and commitment to each subject, exploring a rich variety of human forms and conditions.

Siji Krishnan attained her BFA at the Raja Ravi College of Fine Arts in Kerala and her MFA at the Sarojini Naidu School of Fine Arts in Hyderabad. She has held solo exhibitions at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke in Mumbai (2012 and 2016), and her works have been shown at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kerala (2012) and the Moscow Biennale of International Contemporary Art, Moscow (2017). In 2019 Krishnan was an artist in residence at the Koganecho Art Center in Yokohama, Japan. Her works are held in important public collections such as the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, India; and The Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA.

Generously supported by Ruth Margaret Frances Houghton Bequest.