Shanta Rao works replay the idea of

About Shanta Rao

To find an equivalence of the radicality of Shanta Rao’s work, we might have to go back to the 16th Century, to Bernard Palissy, a potter who was also a pioneer in the theory of agronomy, fossilizations and hydraulics. Palissy attempted for sixteen years to imitate unsuccessfully Chinese porcelain. It is through his multiple positions of failures and innovation that he began experimenting with casting from life, plants and animals, for his Rustic Ceramics. Just as the decomposition of organic matter gave life to Palissy’s knowledge of fossils, Rao wrests from the structural integrity in the programming language as a gateway to get down to the matter of things, in search of knowledge yet to emerge. Forget material obsolescence of the Internet age. Rao’s work is interested in the utility of things to come.

Images of chaos, of natural disasters, reemerged as chaos, buckle under the contact of matters (such as ink on rubber). Rao’s works fluctuate between the illusion of deep space and the tactile quality of the surface. Derived from matrixes of images based on the primary form of a pixel, her works define and defy this mutability with black on black ink, pitting matte against shiny surfaces and images which, by means of porousness, interpenetrate, and absorb one another, in between the abstract and the concrete fields. As putrefaction gave Palissy the grounds for producing objects as images, and images as objects, Rao injects instability in the status of an original form which propagates into other forms, in other words, lesions, as art should be.

Jo-ey Tang, artist, independent curator (formerly of Palais de Tokyo, Paris) and art critic (, Flash Art, Kaleidoscope Asia, LEAP), 2016

“Slight gradations of tone and texture flicker across the exquisite surfaces of Rao’s untitled abstractions (all works 2015), which are wrought from silk-screen impressions and punched indentations on rubber, linoleum, heavy black paper, or copper sheeting. Technically prints, they are also translations wherein the coded information of a pixel is reconstituted as a mark, and in the movement between these modes a poetic charge accrues (…)”

Phil Taylor for, 2015


Shanta Rao (French-Indian. Lives and works in Paris) reroutes the trajectory of forms. The cycle of re-approaching the primary state of a code or a pixel disrupts the idea of finitude to embrace a reflection on the notions of origin, evolution and becoming. Using computerized and physical processes as a territory of mutation, she injects instability into the status of her sources—text, sound and image—and opens up the possibility to pursue itineraries freed from their original fields and to propagate in new forms. A text thus could become an image that in turn becomes a musical score, towards the form of a sculpture. Functioning in an autonomous way as well as within installations, her work is a combinational practice located at the points of convergence between the abstraction of digital coding and the concrete world.