By Charmine Gapasin
Asia’s foremost contemporary artist Nalini Malani, 70, has just been honoured as a regional game changer at the Asia Arts Awards here in Hong Kong. She discusses the progression of women in the global art scene and the importance of equality with Charmine Gapasin.
Q: How do you feel about being one of the Honourees of Asia Society?
A: One of the problems that I have encountered, like many female artists, is that male artists dominate the arts. A predominantly patriarchal way of life means that female artists don’t get as much attention. Because of this, I think it’s fantastic that Asia Society really supports women artists like me and I feel delighted that this honour has been bestowed upon me.
Q: Why do you think female artists don’t get as much recognition as men?
A: I think it’s that the business environment does not trust women as much as male artists which is why the auction prices of art from men are higher than those of women when you look at the figures. The quality of art isn’t a question here, as we’ve seen amazing work from women artists.
Q: Even though female artists don’t get the recognition they deserve, especially when compared to male artists, why do you still do what you do?
A: Creating art is a private activity. I can still keep making art and no one is going to stop me. In 1979 in New York, there was a gallery that was newly opened for women artists which was a significant event for me. They had a whole host of women artists like Ana Mendieta and May Stevens who had made a stand. They said “We are not getting representations in galleries so we have to start one ourselves.” It inspired me to keep doing what I love, despite the lack of recognition and awareness and even led me to start a group with about 20 artists to help showcase their artwork, even without galleries.