Neeta Madahar's beautiful, seductive works merge nature and artifice, immersing the viewer in dreamlike imagery that teases out the innate strangeness in commonplace situations.
Neeta Madahar's project Flora was shown for the first time as part of this exhibition. Flora is a series of highly conceptual and stylised images exploring the dynamics of portraiture within the contexts of femininity, beauty and nature.
Flora evokes the style of Hollywood glamour photography from the 1930s–50s and draws inspiration from the society photographs of Cecil Beaton and Madame Yevonde. Neeta collaborated with a number of friends to create painstakingly staged and detailed photographs that feature her subjects alongside plants and flowers whose names have been adopted as women’s, such as Holly and Jasmine.
Each distinctive, ultra-stylised image investigates notions of drama, reality, allure and female representation, and is underpinned by Neeta’s subjective relationship with the models. Over weeks and months Neeta spent time with each sitter, discussing how they would be photographed, from the look of the clothes, hair and makeup to the lighting and posture, along with the individual, often very personal, ideas they wished to portray within the finished works.
Ten new photographs from Flora were displayed alongside a selection from the artist’s earlier works: Sustenance (2003), Falling (video and photographs, 2005), Cosmoses (2006–07) and Solstice (video, 2008).
Neeta Madahar was born in London in 1966. In 2000 she was awarded a full graduate scholarship to study a three-year Master of Fine Art degree at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. She came to prominence in the photography world in 2004 when Sustenance was selected by Martin Parr for the Recontres d’Arles Photography Festival in Arles, France.