What's On

Star dust

Kirtika Kain

Presented by Arts House

Wednesday 1 March – Thursday 21 December
Mon – Fri, 11am – 4pm


Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Most of the time as an artist I am buried in the studio, smeared in material and deep in the chaos of the worlds I create in my paintings. My work is so physically involved that I was curious if a printed image could retain the energy of witnessing the work in the flesh. It appears that the scale of these photographs allows me to magnify the moments I enjoy— the dense layering, the expansion of some pigments when added to tar and coagulation of others, the addition of wax, the lustre of gold and the skin of the surfaces that are formed. 

My work, like myself, is informed by anti-caste consciousness. I question the legacy of caste, colonisation and the structures I have inherited not only in the politicised world around me, but the internalisation of these codes within me. The materials are an extension of that process of learning and unlearning. But they are also free of it. Creating in the studio is about joy, freedom and power. It is informed by the space of caste and patriarchy and it is indeed a political act but it is also far beyond– it is a timeless dance and truly untainted by it. Through these materials I access that which has survived through my ancestry, the tremendous resilience of Dalit peoples, our stories and ancient traditions. 

The materials shown are details of the alchemical world of my paintings- they are wax, gold, with tar, shellac, scorched linoleum, and other raw and industrial items. They are the way that I think through caste and through the history of oppression to continually find the limitless joy, the passion and celebration that has accompanied the immeasurable loss.

Kirtika Kain, 2023


About the artist

Kirtika Kain is an artist practicing on Darug Country, NSW Australia. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016 and was awarded the Bird Holcomb Scholarship to complete her Master in Fine Art in 2018 at National Art School, Sydney. She was a recipient of the Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Award in 2017, the Art Incubator Grant and Dyason Bequest, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and a finalist in the Churchill Fellowship and numerous art prizes including Blacktown Art Prize (2017, 2019). In 2020, Kirtika received the Paramatta Artist Studio Program and a was a finalist in the Create NSW Emerging Artist Fellowship. She has been an artist in residence at the British School at Rome and the Amant Siena Summer Residency. Kirtika has recently exhibited in the projects Wake Up Call for my Ancestors, Oyoun, Berlin and Plea to the Foreigner, African Biennale of Photography, Mali, collaborating with Dalit artists and thinkers within India and the diaspora.