Splitting the Other, 14 panel polytych (detail), 2007

Nalini Malani does not bear the burden of (that) preference by virtue of philosophical heritage – although cosmopolitan in every way her home is Mumbai and not Florence – but she is acutely attuned to the shadow play of images and the metamorphic opportunities it affords the artist and the shape-shifting licence its gives to the spirits that inhabit her imagery. The mention of spirits should not suggest exotic transcendentalism – Hindu, Buddhist or any other Eastern or Western cosmology – as an explanation of Malani’s work. Instead these protean forces are latent in the polyvalent symbols she chooses and thus a matter of formal elisions and mutations leading to interpretive variety. In short they are spirits of visual language rather than vaporous emanations of being. That said, the overriding feeling one gets from her work is that everything we perceive and every structure we conceive to order and contain those phenomena are subject to perpetual destabilization and inversion.

Robert Storr