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Olivia Fraser at Grosvenor Gallery

1000 Petals. Stone pigment and arabic gum on hand-made Sanganer paper, 66 x 66 cm (26 x 26 in).

Exhibition preview

GROSVENOR Gallery has announced a solo show of recent works by Olivia Fraser for India Art Fair. The works will be on view at the venue from January 30 to February 2, 2014.

Olivia Fraser earned an MA in Modern Languages from Oxford University before studying at Wimbledon Art College and moving to India in 1989.

Initially, her work produced in India followed a program of Western watercolour specialising in architectural rendering and depictions of everyday life.

These were greatly inspired by the Company School style of painting and, in particular, ‘The Fraser Album’, the masterpiece of late Mughal and Company School miniatures, compiled by her kinsmen William and James Fraser in India the early 19th century.

In 2005, Fraser’s work underwent a radical development when she decided to learn traditional Rajasthani miniature painting.

Her knowledge of the art was learnt during years of apprenticeship with Ajay Sharma in Jaipur, and Desmond Lazaro in Delhi under whose tutelage Fraser learnt how to grind and mix stone pigment as well as make handmade paper (wasli) and use the traditional squirrel brushes. Sharma taught her the benefits of using natural, locally sourced products as pigments. As she explains:

“I would spend hours listening to him as he managed his studio, a microcosm of the world outside, channelling it into his work, relating how he used a certain sap from a particular tree outside his front door, or chalk from the cliffs around Jaipur, local flower petals or soot from an oil lamp.”

Fraser now employs the skills learned in Jaipur and in Delhi in her delicate and elaborate paintings that draw heavily on Hindu religious mysticism and cosmological iconography.

Fraser has been greatly inspired by the Jodhpuri paintings of the early 19th Century Man Singh period and has spent much of the last few years deconstructing the images and the scriptural contexts while also finding inspiration in heterodox tantric texts, Jain cosmology and the extraordinary visualisations of the Bhagavad Puranas produced by the great Pahari artist Manaku.

Having been especially influenced by Nathdwara pichwai painting in recent years, Fraser has been exploring its visual language, in the process creating one that seeks to convey the very essence of the Rajasthani miniature tradition in a reductive and monochromatic fashion.

“I’m essentially using an Indian vocabulary. I started off as a linguist and approach my paintings in a similar way. There is a certain meditative quality in the process of miniature painting, which is reflected in my subject matter,” says Fraser.

Fraser’s subject matter has developed from being concerned with a certain meditative stillness using the traditional miniature painting vocabulary of the landscape as a means of exploring this to engaging with the subject of movement – exploring the relationship between static and active.

She has had many successful shows in India and abroad and her works are in prominent collections all over the world. Her most recent exhibitions include works shown at India Art Fair, Sunaparanta Centre for the Arts, Goa, Asian Art in London and Art Dubai.

Grosvenor Gallery, 21 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6PX

T: +44 (0)20 7484 7979