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Inspirational Woman: Uma Nair | Curator and Critic

Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently

Inspirational Woman - Uma Nair (F)I am an English teacher of 35 years, who retired last year as a HOD English Don Bosco School.

I am also a curator who looks for new trends, new artists and novel ways of looking at curating which is not picking up artists and putting them together like a herd of cattle. Curating is a historical exercise. It must have a thread and a vision and must present a statement of historic value for the artist. It is a documentation as well as a visual statement.

I am also currently researching Lalit Kala Archives and aiding in the editing of publications.

Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote

I am working on curating a show of Paris photographs; belonging to an economist who is has been doing photography for 18 years.

I also have two important photography curatorial ventures to look at which I can’t divulge at the moment.

I write everyday. I work on special essays that look at contemporary and classic Indian art. Projects come to me; I try to give it my best shot at perfection and academic excellence.

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?

My greatest challenge was to carve my own story in a world of cutthroat competition. I am self-taught. I’m not a degree holder in the Arts but I learnt from seeing the best shows in The National Gallery Of Art in Washington DC, US. I used to report on these historic shows for Economic Times and Asian Age.

One has to build on any talent. People have to trust and recognise your ability – it happens over time.

What has been your greatest achievement personally?

My greatest achievement has been to author the latest book on Sayed Haider Raza India’s great abstractionist and Modernist. It’s called Reverie with Raza. I would like to thank the Raza Foundation for the opportunity.

I am also proud of writing a chapter on watercolours of the artist Sanjay Bhattacharya. The book also has historian, Aman Nath, writing a chapter on oils. This is a great honour and English publishers, Paraggon, will publish it.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

I would be singing at a nightclub. I love music and I’m a trained gospel singer of 55 years. I have conducted choirs at my school, where I taught and looked after the school band and trained vocalists.

I may also have been a poet. I write poems and I love reading poetry. My latest poem on Poem Hunter is a tribute to Mahasweta Devi.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

The words of Picasso are my biggest inspiration. First learn all the rules and then break them. I love Picasso. I love his work, his ingenuity and his brilliance at creating works we couldn’t think of. I like his sense of wanting to create all the time.

What does the future hold for you?

A meadow of promises that recognises hard work. I live the life of a hermit. I see exhibitions and write and curate. I want to do more in the world of photography for great photographers who don’t have so much money, but have talent as well as abstract artists. They get left out in the mad race.

About Uma Nair

Critic and Curator Uma Nair has been writing for the past 29 years on art and culture. She has written as critic for Times of India and Economic Times. She believes that art is a progressive sojourn and there are those who are taught and those who are self taught. She herself had learnt by looking at the best shows in Washington D.C. and New York. Life is about learning and growing. Her most important curation was for Lalit Kala Akademi-Moderns. She also curated Jamini Roy Carved Contours and Gopal Ghosh Rustic Resonance.

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