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Asia Arts Future Award Recipient 2024: Aban Raza Champions Social Commentary Through Art

Aban Raza, a contemporary artist based in New Delhi, was recently honoured with the prestigious Asia Arts Future (India) Award 2024. The accolade, presented at the Asia Society’s Award function held in New Delhi on February 2, celebrates Raza’s remarkable artistic contributions that poignantly articulate the lived experiences and cultural landscape of the region.

Raza’s journey as an artist is deeply intertwined with India’s socio-political fabric, as evidenced by her impactful and thought-provoking artwork. Drawing inspiration from the complex patchwork of everyday narratives and pressing socio-political issues, Raza’s work resonates profoundly with audiences far beyond the confines of the art world.

One of Raza’s defining pieces, painted in 2021, captures the fervour and spirit of the massive farmers’ agitation at the Tikri border. Through her skilled use of oils, she immortalises the indomitable resolve of women protesters, their fists raised in jubilant rebellion as they march towards the barricades. Raza’s presence at the scene enabled her to encapsulate the essence of the moment, reflecting the citizens’ resolute demand for their rights.

Aban Raza’s painting of women at the Tikri border in Delhi-Haryana during the farmers’ protest.
Aban Raza’s painting of women at the Tikri border in Delhi-Haryana during the farmers’ protest. Courtesy: Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke

But Raza’s artistic repertoire extends beyond the domain of protests and political upheavals. Her work explores into the rucial yet mundane  aspects of everyday life, offering poignant glimpses into the lives of forgotten people – farmers toiling in the fields, women sharing moments of intimacy during train journeys, and labourers engaged in backbreaking work on Delhi’s streets.

However, Raza’s artistic journey is not without its ethical dilemmas. As she grapples with questions of privilege and exploitation, she remains acutely aware of the responsibility that comes with profiting from the portrayal of societal injustices. Yet, she embraces this challenge with a sense of duty, striving to engage with and give back to the causes she represents through her art.Through her  depictions of historical sites and their evolving narratives, Raza adds layers to the discourse on India’s complex past and present. Her work is a powerful commentary on the ever-changing landscape of identity and memory.

Feature Image: Aban Raza received the award from Pheroza Godrej with Richa Agarwal of Emami at the Asia Society’s Award function in New Delhi. Courtesy: Pablo Bartholomew

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