SUCHITRA MATTAI: Innocence and Everything After

Denver, CO—K Contemporary is honored to present Suchitra Mattai’s solo exhibition, “Innocence and Everything After,” opening Saturday, July 18th and running through August 15th, 2020.


Suchitra Mattai’s work speaks to the artist’s keen interest in giving a voice to people whose voices were historically quieted.  Using both her own family’s ocean migrations and research on the period of colonial indentured labor during the 19th Century, the artist seeks to expand our sense of “history.” In Mattai’s mind, re-writing this colonial history contributes to contemporary dialogue by making visible the struggles and perseverance of those who lived it; she shares, “I often focus on women and employ practices and materials associated with the domestic sphere, such as embroidery, weaving, etc.  I re-imagine vintage and found materials that have a rich history as a way of creating dialogue with the original makers and the time periods in which they were cherished.”


In this newest body of work, “Innocence and Everything After,” Mattai considers a contrast between societal loss of innocence and the collective gaining of knowledge, as a result of the recent global events. From the brutal murder of George Floyd, to the burning of the Amazon, and the global pandemic—these have turned the world upside down. She comments, “While some might hope for a speedy return to “normalcy,” these events have unmasked uncomfortable truths about the racial, social, and environmental injustices that have been embedded in the status quo.  Over the past few months we have witnessed a collective loss of innocence, and this loss is a precondition for our coming-to-terms with the problems (and indeed the evils) of the past—the dark legacy of slavery, colonialism, globalization and greed.  While innocence has been lost, powerful knowledge has been gained.  And new ways of acknowledging our common humanity have emerged from the ashes, new ways of building meaningful connections between us, of rectifying wrongs, of forging a better future together.”


Mattai’s exhibition explores the possibility of regaining a kind of second-order innocence, one that transports the viewers back to their collective childhood, when the world was full of tantalizing possibilities. With this thoughtful look into the current world through the lens of her work, the artist suggests that “tapping into this deep and universal experience of innocence can help us re-imagine a new normal, one that makes space for unheard voices, environmental reforms, and racial and economic justice.”  All forms of genuine education require a loss of innocence, and that loss is sometimes painful or uncomfortable.  But it can also be liberating, and a source of inspiration for new beginnings.  Through paintings, fiber, video, and installations, “Innocence and Everything After,” explores childhood innocence, the human “fall,” and the potential for creating a new world.