Gigi Scaria was born in Kothanalloor, a village in southern Kerala, India, in 1973. In 1995, after completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, Scaria moved to New Delhi where he undertook a Master of Arts at Jamia Millia Islamia. In the mid-1990s, while establishing his career as a professional artist, Scaria also illustrated children’s books and taught art at an experimental school in New Delhi.

By 2000, increased international exposure was accompanied by prestigious residency opportunities and solo exhibitions in India, Germany, America, Hungary, the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2002, Scaria was awarded an Inlaks Scholarship, and was artist-in-residence at UNIDEE, Cittadellarte- Pistoletto Foundation, Biella, Italy. Scaria’s creative repertoire includes painting, photography, installation, sculpture, and video. Since 2002, he has made over thirty-five video works including: A day with Sohail and Maryan (2004), Home: in/out (2005), Raise your hands those who have touched him (2007), All about the other side (2008), and Raise your hands those who have spoken to him (2010). Subjects of early videos include the children who inhabit the streets of New Delhi, and the memories of people who have met or seen Mahatma Gandhi and Mao Zedong, while recent video work deals with the impact of the rapid growth of India’s cities and the social conditions that have been affected by this change.

Scaria’s first project for an American museum, Gigi Scaria: City unclaimed was held in 2013 at the Smart Museum of Art, the University of Chicago. A large photo-based mural of an imaginary cityscape, and a 3.6 meter high water fountain were sited in the museum’s reception for twelve months. Scaria’s recent solo exhibitions, Amusement park (Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai, 2009), Difficult to imagine, easy to construct (Art Asia Miami, 2008), Site under construction (Videospace Budapest, 2008), and Triviality of everyday existence (the National Art Studio, Changdong, Republic of Korea, 2008), featured video art that included interviews (fictional and non-fictional), documentaries and animation.

In 2010 Scaria participated in West Heavens, the first major artistic engagement between India (historically referred to as the West Heavens in Chinese Buddhist texts) and China. The exhibition Place time play: India-China contemporary art, was displayed at various venues by the Shanghai International Culture Association, Institute of Visual Culture,China.

The following year Scaria was one of five artists (with Zarina Hashmi, Sonal Jain, Mriganka Madhukaillya and Praneet Soi) to represent India at the 54th Venice Biennale in the exhibition Everyone agrees: it’s about to explode, curated by Ranjit Hoskote. Scaria exhibited a major installation, Elevator from the sub-continent, which created a simulated space representing an actual elevator that the audience was invited to step inside in order to ‘time travel’ to different locations in India. In 2011 Scaria’s work was presented at the 3rd Singapore Biennale as well as in Crossroads: India escalate for the Prague Biennale.

In 2012 Scaria participated in the Oz Asia Festival exhibition The needle on the gauge: the testimonial image in the work of seven Indian artists, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide, and he created a sculptural installation for the exhibition Tropical heat: new art from South Asia at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand. His work also appeared in Critical mass at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the first major exhibition to introduce contemporary Indian art to the Israeli public. Gigi Scaria was a 2012 University of Melbourne Macgeorge Fellow, and presented an exhibition of video works at the Ian Potter Museum of Art as part of the Melbourne Festival. In 2013 his first solo in Australia titled “Dust” took place at the Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne.

In 2014 Scaria participated in Kochi Muziris Beinnale titled Whorled Explorations curated by Jitish Kallat. In 2015 his next major solo exhibition took place in Gallery Chemould, Mumbai titled “The Ark”. In 2016 he has exhibited a large-scale steel sculpture at Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, USA. At the same time he also had a solo exhibition “Time” at their art center.

In 2017 his major solo exhibition was held at Aicon Gallery, NewYork. The show is titled “All about this side” which includes a new set of bronze sculptures along with paintings, photographs and video installations. An exhibition of selected works by Scaria titled Iconic Interruptions on Mahatma Gandhi was held at Frederic Jameson Gallery, Duke University in September 2017.

Ecce Homo: Behold the man or how one becomes what one is, a recent solo exhibition held in Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi in 2018

Further reading

Ranjit Hoskote, ‘A journal of furrowed earth and salt desert’, reflections on dust, a project by Gigi Scaria, Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, 2013

Adajania, Nancy, ‘The unbearable heaviness of being: parables of a 21st-century nagrik’, Gigi Scaria: amusement park, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai, 2010

Ciotti, Manuela & Gigi Scaria, ‘Thinking art in India: a semi-virtual lab’, in Raqs Media Collective & Shveta Sarda (eds), Sarai reader 09: Projections, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, 2013

Kirpalani, Amita, ‘Bad religion’, in Gigi Scaria: Prisms of perception, the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic., 2012

Mohan, Satyanand, ‘Gigi Scaria: the archaeology of urban life’, 13 September 2009, viewed 27 August 2013

Scaria, Gigi, ‘Video: a parallel inquiry (other encounters the self)’, Absence of an architect: Gigi Scaria, Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2007

Scaria, Gigi, in conversation with Jamila Adeli, ‘Trust the medium, control the message: the art of aestheticizing a bulldozer’, Gigi Scaria, Galerie Christian Hosp, Berlin, 2009

Sinha, Gayatri, ‘The city of forking paths’, Absence of an architect: Gigi Scaria, Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2007