Unit London is proud to present a solo exhibition from Suchitra Mattai, titled Monster and curated by Rebecca Hart. Suchitra Mattai’s first solo exhibition with Unit London is an exploration of monsters in their various forms. Navigating spaces of myth, fantasy and memory, Mattai’s exhibition delves into how otherness and monstrosity intertwine.
Specifically thinking of immigrant communities and the mentally ill, Mattai’s works look closely at our differences and how these differences can often be a source of fear and misunderstanding. The artist therefore investigates our perceptions of others, examining the intersection of gazes between those who other and those who are othered. Invoking a cross-cultural sense of myth to engage with these ideas of monstrosity, Mattai’s works explore how monsters are created from what is seemingly different, distorted and unfamiliar.
Both historically and art historically, monstrosity is consistently characterised by hybridity; beasts are composed of different animals or are even human-like with animal features. The materiality of Mattai’s works reflects these notions, uncovering ideas of hybridity and distortion. The artist purposefully brings together disparate mediums, using found materials and reimagining them to create her artworks. For the artist, each of these found objects carries a specific aura that speaks to her individually. Mattai’s works incorporate vintage prints and sculptures, found needlepoints and vintage saris either collected or passed down to her from friends and family. Often, Mattai will include vintage prints that depict European and colonial pastoral motifs. However, her works create unexpected interventions in these spaces, unsettling and reassembling these idealised realms to weave new narratives.
It is this sense of the unexpected which connects Mattai’s artworks to the monstrous; fear always accompanies that which might seem different or erratic. These differences are often ascribed to those who dwell outside our familiar communities, with different practices, cultures or mental states. Similarly, monsters themselves exist outside these realms of reality, occupying the dark spaces of our fantasies and imaginations. As such, Mattai recognises the word monster as representative of fear, particularly fear of the other and the unknown. Through her practice of combining unexpected elements, Mattai creates a space that questions the origins of these fears. These tangible pieces of visual art hope to reach the intangible spaces of fantasy and myth to ignite discussion. In this way, Monsters seeks to bring together disparate entities in order to reconcile them somehow, celebrating difference to promote acceptance.