Excavation Paths

“Twelve Gates Arts is pleased to present Excavation Paths, the first solo exhibition of Philadelphia-based artist Shwarga Bhattacharjee, curated by Tausif Noor. Featuring new and recent works on paper and canvas that showcase Bhattacharjee’s nuanced engagement with abstract painting and collage, the exhibition centers on the densely layered narratives—personal, political, and social—that teem below the geographies and spaces that define our lives.

Rather than taking for granted that these histories might surface on their own, the artist suggests that the act of surfacing, or making visible such histories, is an act that is deeply personal, situated both within lived experience and the realm of imagination. Canvases thickly layered in dense assemblages, then slashed with lines of paint form loose cartographies that refer to the riverine deltas of the artist’s native Bangladesh and the urban grid of Philadelphia. Realized as much by their representation as legible space as by the artist’s personal experiences of traversing—and not being able to move freely between—these places as an immigrant. As such, these are sites of belonging and unbelonging, locations are riven by memories and potential yet to be uncovered.

Excavation Paths is pitched between a sober recognition of the past and a cautious look at the present, emerging from a period of political upheaval and social uncertainty in South Asia, the U.S., and the world at large. Bhattacharjee’s works are informed by these events—from sectarian violence against Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan and minority communities in India; the surge of activism following the uprisings in support of the Black lives in Philadelphia; and the catastrophic effects of the ongoing pandemic and its attendant ruptures to daily life. These experiences are refracted by the artist, accreting in layers whose density and variations in opacity, facture, color, and weight attest to the artist’s dedication to manifesting in deeply rooted, material language the importance of unburying past, present, and future.”

Twelve Gates Arts, Philadelphia, PA, 2022