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About Mequitta

Mequitta Ahuja lives and works in Baltimore City. She received her MFA from UIC in 2003, mentored by artist Kerry James Marshall who, in 2004, curated Mequitta's work into an exhibition at the Maryland Institute College of Art. This was one of Mequitta's first exhibitions. Since then, Mequitta's work has been exhibited in cities throughout the U.S as well as in Paris, Brussels, London, Berlin, India and Dubai. Mequitta has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s 12X12,... more

Artist Statement

“Performing Painting” unmasks and consolidates the figurative tradition and stages an intervention. In this series, I position a woman of color at the fulcrum of a discourse on representation, making the tradition of figurative representation clear by distilling its form to its salient motifs including one-point perspective, architecture that frames a narrative, and the allegorical figure. By working strategically within painting's pasts, I re-cast self-portraiture as a treatise on picture-making, past and present.

In each of my works I combine different types of representation such as flat and volumetric form, realism and schematic design and stylized imagery. The result is series of highly-textured, large-scale paintings that visually catalog painting conventions while using those conventions to make new meanings. In “Performing Painting: Renaissance Woman,” for example, I distill to a single picture several themes of the colonial American era – interest in the light and color discoveries of Newton which I use as a symbol for the painter, that era’s conventional pose for white American women which was derived from English mezzotints, and the historical erasure of black people, both physically and psychically, to which I make the intervention of portraying a self-possessed woman of color. I use the fiction of a recently uncovered painting to point to the lost, covered up, forgotten, unknown, black subjectivity and creative power that was and is essential to the growth of this nation. On the far right, I portray a tool I used to make the painting, which also serves as a mental key for the viewer to break the painting’s fiction and understand it as a construction. This is one example of how I distill a complex set of ideas into paint.

“Performing Painting,” is a form of tribute, pedagogy and intervention - tribute, out of sincere admiration for the figurative painting tradition, pedagogy, by making something vast comprehensible, and intervention, by unmasking the tradition, making pointed substitutions to the tradition, and by positioning a woman of color as the figurative tradition's agent and progenitor.

2014, The Italy Drawings

I was invited to spend two months of 2014 as an artist in residence at the Siena Art Institute in Siena Italy. I spent my time traveling, drawing and studying the art and history of Italy. These drawings reflect my encounters with the art, architecture and stories of Italy.

  • Statues

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 22"X17" 2014
  • Siena II

    Colored Pencil on Paper 22"X17" 2014
  • Sphinx I

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 22"X17" 2014
  • Sphinx II

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 22"X17" 2014
  • Lupa I

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 17"X22" 2014
  • Foro Romano

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 17"X22" 2014
  • Colle Palatino

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 17"X18.25" 2014
  • Siena I

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 19.5"X17" 2014
  • Lupa II

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 22"X17" 2014
  • Duomo

    Colored Pencil on Paper, 17"X19.25" 2014

2014, Rhyme Sequence Series

The Rhyme Sequence Series is comprised of five works on canvas, presented here in narrative order. The title "Rhyme Sequence" refers to my use and reuse of patterned elements which I adjust from work to work. The repeated but adjusted elements can be understood as visual rhyme. Follow, for example, the purple pattern as it begins in "Spring Sprung" as a simple rectangle, becomes in WIggle Waggle," the necklace of the figure and in "Crick Crack," takes on central form. In the progression of the series, changing pattern is an echo or reverberation of the transformation undergone by the figure.

2011- 2012, Collage Drawings

I began these works by marking and stamping plain white paper. I used a variety of tools including letterpress type and Indian textile printing blocks. I then ripped those papers apart and collaged them together. This patchwork, which I think of as a cultural-ground, became my drawing surface.

  • Autocartography I

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil, Oil and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 82"X93" 2012
  • Departing SIena

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 86"X53" 2014
  • Autocartography III

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil, Oil and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 82"X93" 2012
  • Boogie Woogie

    Colored Pencil, Acrylic and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 30"X22" 2013
  • Epilogue

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 30"X22" 2012
  • Cleave I

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 18"X13" 2011
  • Royal Ease

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil, Enamel and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 83"X71" 2012
  • Meecoo Mocoo

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil, Enamel and Waxy Chalk on Paper, 73"X86" 2011
  • Detail of Mocoonama

    Detail of Mocoonama
  • Mocoonama

    Acrylic, Colored Pencil, Enamel and Waxy Chalk on Paper. 87"X73" 2012

2009-2011, Dark Landscapes

Dark landscapes, landscapes at night, discerning elements through textured marks, and woven, knit-together surfaces - these are interests that run throughout many of my works. Here I present the paintings in which I isolate those elements in paintings of dark landscapes.

2008, Hair-Themed Works - Waxy Chalk on Paper

I made these drawings using simple means: pressure against my drawing tool combined with the texture of the paper to slowly build the form. I inverted the head to signal a shift from the biographical to the "automythic."

Various Dates, Oil on Canvas

I view painting and drawing as a cumulative process of time and marks. Whether using crayon, brush, palette knife, collage or printing block, I build form and surface through the accumulation of lines and strokes. The physicality of my technique is mirrored by my female protagonist’s assertive presence in the work. She is both subject and maker of her world.

  • Forge

    Oil on Canvas, 84"X72" 2009
  • In Deep

    Oil on Canvas, 96"X80" 2008
  • Generator

    Oil on Canvas, 84"X80", 2010
  • Perch

    Oil on Canvas, 84"X72" 2009
  • Seesaw

    Oil on Canvas, 84"X72" 2014
  • Stick Stack Detail

    Stick Stack Detail
  • Stick Stack

    In "Stick Stack" I continued to explore my interest in building a large painting with small, painted units. In the brickwork represented here, I find a simultaneity of pattern and image. Oil on Canvas, 84"X80"

Various Dates, Hair-Themed Works - Color

These works are my response to the history of black hair as a barometer of social and political consciousness. I represented black hair in its psychic proportions. Expanding from the literal to the imaginative, the flow from the head becomes the flow from the mind.

  • Parade

    Enamel on Canvas, 96"X161" 2008
  • Afrogalaxy

    Enamel on Paper, 96"X104" 2007
  • Anthem

    Enamel on Paper, 84"X52" 2007
  • Ambush

    Enamel on Paper,84"X52" 2007
  • Dream Region

    Enamel on Paper, 84"X104" 2009
  • Yellow I

    Oil and Paper on Canvas, 68"X36" 2014 This is a more recent work, made for a particular opportunity, which necessitated a return to the earlier subject matter.
  • Flowback

    Oil on Canvas, 68"X51" 2008
  • Insemination

    Enamel on Paper, 84"X52" 2008

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Mequitta's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.