Half Empty, Half Full: Raksha Patel and Niema Khan

…Unfortunately, the art establishment has not yet acknowledged (let alone celebrated) the new generation of younger Asian women artists who have graduated from England’s art schools over the past few years. Niema Khan and Raksha Patel are two such artists. Born and brought up in this country, they typify the independent-minded Asian woman who, quite simply, refuses to be stereotyped. Whilst avoiding didactic readings, their art is unnervingly focussed. They explore their concerns with a refreshing sense of clarity and immediacy. Theirs is the visual equivalent of “grammar like a hammer.”

Those who are expecting pretty pictures or polite renderings of ephemeral themes will definitely need to look elsewhere. These artists leave us in n o doubt that for them, art is little or nothing if it deliberately avoids making central references to their multiple and simultaneous identities as women, as ‘Asian’ women, as ‘British’ women and so on…

For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the work of Niema Khan and Raksha Patel is the way in which it refuses to excuse unacceptable patterns of thought and behaviour from within circles of Asian males. In other words, Niema Khan and Raksha Patel remind Asian men that they too have important work to do in fighting against the stereotypes that continue to torment Asian women, both here and in countries such as India and Pakistan.

The above extracts are from a brochure introduction by Eddie Chambers, for “Half Empty, Half Full” exhibition by Raksha Patel and Niema Khan, 198 Gallery, London. 3 April – 4 May 1996