If you’ve read show reviews before, you know what the usual format is.
I’m not going to stick to it, because Janine Shroff is more than just her artwork, and I think you ought to know that.
My first experience of Janine and her work was through Visual Disobedience, an artist collective in Mumbai. From the moment I laid eyes on her prints, I fell in love. There is a stunning truthfulness to Janine as a person, and it translates beautifully into her art. It’s rare that you meet someone who exudes a spirit of pure creative energy and personal confidence at the level that Janine does.
You might have noted that unlike the usual format, I’ve not been referring to this wonderful artist by her last name. I think she’s deserving of being known by her first name instead of the generic last-name-artist category. And I reserve this only for those I deem worthy.
Janine was born in Bombay in 1983, went to the same high school I did (something I only recently found out), and graduated with an M.A. with distinction from Central St. Martins College in London, following a B.A. at Camberwell College of Art. Janine was shortlisted for the Mercury Art Prize in 2007 and has shown across the UK, where she lives and works. She works predominantly with mixed media, acrylic and ballpoint pens on heavyweight paper. Her early influences are very clear in her work, and you can see how she has transformed her love for miniature paintings and late 80’s comic books like MAD magazine, into intricate, glowing works of art.
Far too few have experienced Janine’s work in India thus far, I fear, and it’s my belief that in a time of social, sexual and political rethinking in this country, more of us need to be exposed to her incredible work. Her surreal, figurative and fantastic work is set in the real world, but in more personal scenarios like tea parties and swimming pools, or in the case of one work titled “The Arsonist’s Ball”, a beautiful mansion filled with explosives. They deal with themes like birth, pregnancy, relationships, sexual identity and gender, as well as the worship of fertility and voyeurism, but in a very clean and pointed manner.
Where we fear to tread in terms of showcasing ideas and scenarios that ought to be spoken of, Janine steps confidently, clearing the vines and branches with long, arcing cuts with her shining blade of clarity. Her latest solo exhibition, on show at Sitara Studio in Elphinstone, Mumbai over Christmas, 2014, is titled OTHERLANDS, and contains works of power and beauty that only those willing to immerse themselves into will truly see. If you are not open in thinking, you will not learn what is there to be learned, or embark upon a journey into a realm of blinding wonder and colour.
Janine’s work is easy to converse with, and I honestly cannot wait to have more conversations with them, and her. You should start some conversations too, beginning your journey on her website : http://janineshroff.co.uk/