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Francis Summers

(b Karachi, 1935).

Pakistani conceptual artist, sculptor, painter, writer and curator, active in England. He graduated in civil engineering from the University of Karachi in 1962 and moved to London in 1964. He began working as an artist without any formal training, producing sculptures influenced by Minimalism and by his engineering experience; the four-part Boo (1969; Liverpool, Walker A. G.), with its cage-like compartments, recalls in particular the work of Sol LeWitt. In 1972, appalled by the institutionalized racism that he found to be endemic in Britain, he became interested in radical politics and joined the Black Panther movement. Six years later he founded and began editing the journal Black Phoenix, which, in 1989, was transformed into Third Text, one of the most important journals dealing with art, the third world, post-colonialism and ethnicity. He continued to contribute to and edit Third Text, and was one of the pivotal figures in establishing a black voice in the British arts through his activities as a publisher, writer and artist. His performance ...


Filipino, 20th century, male.

Born 1937, in Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines; died 13 April 2013.

Painter, conceptual artist.

Roberto Chabet studied architecture at the University of Santo Tomas and graduated in 1961, the year he held his first solo exhibition, at the Luz Gallery. He achieved early critical success when he won first prize for his painting ...


Vietnamese-American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1968, in Ha Tien, Vietnam.

Photographer, video artist, conceptual artist.

In 1978, Dinh Q. Lê fled Vietnam with his family to the United States, where he eventually gained U.S. citizenship. After completing his BA in fine arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in ...


Catherine M. Grant

(b Karachi, Pakistan, April 18, 1968).

British film maker, installation artist and conceptual artist of Pakistani birth, active in England. She completed a BFA at Goldsmiths’ College, London, between 1991 and 1994. For her degree show she created Pushed/Pulled (1994; see 1998 exh. cat.), changing the door panels at the entrance to the college’s studios so that they read ‘Pushed’ and ‘Pulled’ rather than ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’. This kind of conceptual slippage is typical of Floyer’s work. In Light (1994; Berne, Ksthalle), a disconnected lightbulb is illuminated by the beams from four slide projectors; the blandly descriptive title, like the work itself, is both truthful and paradoxically misleading, undermining the viewer’s expectations of the object’s functionality. Floyer uses these dislocations to produce situations in which viewers are made to feel very selfconscious about what they should be seeing, often using projections as a means of producing apparent displacements of objects or sounds. In the video ...


Anthony Gardner

(b Singapore, July 12, 1959).

Malaysian conceptual artist, active also in Australia. Gill studied at the University of Western Sydney, completing her MA in 2001. Despite working in a range of media, she is best understood as a process-based artist who has consistently explored notions of migration and transformation within material culture. These include the effects of international trade on such everyday activities as cooking and eating. The spiral form of Forking Tongues (1992; Brisbane, Queensland A.G.), for example, entwines Western cutlery and dried chillies from the Americas and Asia, highlighting how foods and utensils from across the globe have come together to transform local cuisines and inform culinary habits. Gill’s later photographic series refer to other understandings of migration, such as the spread of the English language or of capitalist desire throughout South-east Asia in recent decades. For Forest (1998; Sydney, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery; see Chua), Gill cut out words and sentences from books written in English, placed the texts within tropical landscapes and photographed the results before the books’ paper began rotting into the humid environment. For ...


Peter A. Nagy

(b Bombay, Aug 26, 1976).

Indian conceptual artist. Gupta studied sculpture at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay, graduating in 1997. Gupta was the Indian artist who most explicitly embraced digital and web-based art practice. Her first work to gain wide attention in India was Untitled (2002), a video of the artist in multiple, watching the viewer in a confrontational and provocative manner. Her works address the manipulation of the lower classes through religion, politics or commerce, often employing irony and humour. Gupta created websites as art works, addressing subjects such as the exploitation of labour in diamond mines (Diamonds and You, 2000), romantic and matrimonial connections fostered by the internet (Sentiment-Express.com, 2001) and an ironic take on pan-religious devotion (Blessed-Bandwidth.net, 2003, commissioned by Tate Modern, London). In each work, the artist used the anonymity that cyber-space provides to focus on societal changes of behaviour and the redefinition of artistic possibilities....


David Spalding

(b Ha Tien, Nov 16, 1968).

Vietnamese conceptual artist. Lê was born near the Cambodian border, but fled with his family when his hometown was invaded by the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Lê moved to Los Angeles and studied photography at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1992. In 1989, while at the University of California, Lê enrolled in a class on the Vietnam War (1955–75) that emphasized American hardship. This sparked Lê’s earliest public art project, Accountability, a series of posters that Lê put up on his college campus (reproduced in 1992 for Creative Time, New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles). These posters juxtaposed American media images of the Vietnam War with explicit pictures of Vietnamese suffering, accompanied by captions detailing the damage done to Vietnam. The desire to intervene in dominant perceptions of the Vietnam War propelled Lê for much of his artistic career....


Filipino, 20th century, male.

Active in the UK.

Born 1942, in Manila.

Sculptor (mixed media).

Process Art, Kinetic Art, Conceptual Art.

David Medalla is of mixed race and was brought up in the port city of Manila, an ideal location for cultural exchange. Apart from his fascination with the abundant tropical flora of the 7,000 islands constituting the Philippine archipelago, two things caught Medalla’s attention from an early stage: the concept of hylozoism put forward by the pre-Socratic philosopher Thales (which proposes that all matter is living) and contemporary astrophysics (which proposes that the universe is expanding). At the start of the 1960s Medalla settled in London, where he worked. He visited Paris and saw the first works by Soto and Takis. His place in the history of art is entirely bound up with the appearance, development and fading away of the kinetic art phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s. Just as Frank Popper’s ...


Peter A. Nagy

(b Simla, May 28, 1943).

Indian conceptual and installation artist . Sundaram studied painting (1961–5) at the M.S. University of Baroda, in the western Indian state of Gujarat and at the Slade School in London (1966–8). In 1970 he returned to India and developed a style of figurative painting that became associated with what came to be known as the Baroda School (his peers being Bhupen Khakhar (1934–2003), Gulammohammed Sheikh (b 1937), Nilima Sheikh and Nalini Malani). The Baroda School championed a re-negotiation of figurative painting, employing both narrative devices and art historical quotations. During the 1970s and 1980s, Sundaram’s paintings employed an Impressionistic technique paired with Magic Realist imagery, often alluding to autobiographical events or social situations specific to India ( see fig. ). One notable series of drawings, The Heights of Maacchu Picchu (1972; see Sheikh, p. 174) attempted to address the struggles of the masses through graphic terms. This preoccupation with articulating his own ideological preferences is a recurring leitmotif in his art....


Reena Jana

(b Buenos Aires, July 21, 1961).

Thai conceptual and installation artist, active also in the USA ( see fig. ). Tiravanija, son of a Thai diplomat, studied at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto and the Banff Center School of Fine Arts, before attending the art school of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Tiravanija’s practice often involves everyday actions and commonplace materials, as well as audience interaction. His first untitled solo show, at 303 Gallery, New York in 1992, consisted of offering visitors Thai food cooked on-site. In 1995 he presented a similar untitled work at the Carnegie International exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA. At this venue he included wall text that presented written instructions for cooking South-east Asian green curry, which was then prepared for visitors ( see fig. ).

The participatory and performative aspects of Tiravanija’s art, combined with straightforward instructions, recall elements found in work by the Japanese Fluxus artist ...