Boston artist Kanishka Raja, whose large-scale paintings of interior spaces combine Eastern and Western influences, has been chosen as this year’s recipient of the newly renamed Digitas/ICA Artist Prize. The Digitas/ICA Artist Prize is given annually to a Boston artist in recognition of exceptional work produced in the last year. Raja will receive a $5,000 honorarium as well as a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, scheduled for January 2005.
“The Digitas/ICA Artist Prize embodies the ICA’s deeply rooted commitment to identifying and fostering extraordinary artistic talent,” says Jill Medvedow, James Sachs Plaut Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art. “In partnership with Digitas, we are pleased to award this year’s prize to Kanishka Raja, whose striking and inventive work has increasingly received critical acclaim in the northeast.”
Raja’s work has recently reached a new level of sophistication and complexity. His large-scale paintings of strange, disorienting interior spaces play with texture, pattern, and perspective. Raja has described them as “collisions of the foreign and the familiar.” He draws inspiration from the public, though often anonymous, interiors of hotels and airport lounges, as well as from the more intimate domains of bedrooms and family “rec” rooms. Although his paintings are empty of inhabitants, Raja fills them with resonant objects—crates of vinyl records, old exercise equipment, rifles, sneakers—that give clues as to who might reside in these fragmented worlds.
“We proudly join the ICA to award the first Digitas/ICA Artist Prize,” says Rob Cosinuke, president, Global Capabilities, Digitas. “Boston’s creative arts community continues to define the many faces of human experience, and we’re proud to support its ongoing innovation.”
Raja was born in Calcutta, India, in 1969, and has lived in the United States since he was 18. He received his MFA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1995 and in 2000 he attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. He has had solo exhibitions at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; Bellwether Gallery, Brooklyn; The Gallery at Green Street, Boston, and most recently at Allston Skirt Gallery in Boston. He has also been included in numerous group exhibitions in Boston, New York, Miami, and Connecticut. His work is in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University and the Meadows Art Museum in Dallas, Texas.
Called an “exceptionally interesting painter” by the New York Times, Raja was chosen from a group of artists nominated by local curators, educators, writers, and artists. From among the artists nominated, Raja was unanimously and enthusiastically chosen by a distinguished jury that included Mark H. C. Bessire, Director of the Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine; Amada Cruz, Executive Director of Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue, New York; Jane Farver, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge; and Nicholas Baume, ICA Chief Curator.
Beginning with this year, Digitas, the Boston-based relationship marketing firm, has partnered with the ICA to present this important award to Boston-area artists because of their shared interest in promoting artistic excellence. Only in its sixth year, the award has already acted as a springboard for the careers of past recipients, including Laylah Ali (2000) and Taylor Davis (2001), whose work is included in the current Whitney Biennial in New York.
Boston-based Digitas is among the 15 largest marketing services organizations in the world and is the Adweek 2003 Independent Interactive Agency of the Year. Digitas’ unique combination of strategy consulting, technology consulting, and marketing agency services helps many world-leading companies attract, retain, and grow the most profitable customer relationships in their industries.
The Institute of Contemporary Art, located at 955 Boylston Street in Boston, is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, noon–5pm; Thursday, noon–9pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 11am–5pm. Admission is $7 adults, $5 seniors and students, and free for members and children under 12. Admission is free on Thursdays, 5–9pm. For more information, call 617-266-5152 or visit www.icaboston.org.
All images are courtesy of the artist.