Manish Nai India, b. 1980


Manish Nai began his adoration of twentieth century abstraction in college, coinciding with a moment when abstraction had fallen out of favor in India. At this time, while Nai resolutely pursued minimalism, figurative collage and ornamentation surged in popularity; his work definitively went against the fashion.


Nai uses material that is both modest and quintessentially Indian, like jute and newspaper, in pieces that are studies in tedious complexities. When complete, they are presented as a tightly organized unit. The media that Nai uses are usually cheap and ubiquitous, alluding to both hierarchies of artistic media and Indian social structures. Jute, for instance, is a strong vegetable fiber that is often woven into a durable fabric, similar to burlap; it was once used as clothing material for the poor and is now more commonly used in building construction. Nai hails from a family of jute traders, and his intimate understanding of the material comes equally from his cultural and familial relationships to it.


Nai's use of newspapers examines the tremendous diversity and contention within Indian society—there are almost 100 newspapers in 19 different languages distributed daily in India. He soaks them, stripping them of their words, and compresses them in wooden molds, elevating the material from disposable to the rarified.


Nai attained a Diploma in Drawing and Painting from the L.S. Raheja School of Art in Mumbai, India. He has held solo exhibitions at Kavi Gupta | Elizabeth St., Chicago, IL; Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris, France; Galerie Karsten Greve, St. Mortiz, Switzerland; Galerie Mirchan-dani + Steinruecke, Mumbai, India; Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Germany; and Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Berlin, Germany, among others. In 2014, Nai was selected for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.


Born in Gujarat, Nai lives and works in Mumbai, India.