Neha Vedpathak (b. 1982) is a Detroit-based artist who creates sculptural installations and wall reliefs made from paper. She was introduced to Sundaram Tagore Gallery in 2019, when she was selected by curator Betty Seid for our exhibition Alterations Activation Abstraction. Although she has only been exhibiting her work since 2006, Vedpathak has already received critical recognition from institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, which acquired and exhibits her work across from work by Anish Kapoor.
Vedpathak began her career as a painter, creating minimalist abstract works on canvas. She subsequently sought to move beyond the two-dimensional plane. After experimenting with different materials for a period of time, in 2009 she came across handmade Japanese paper, which eventually became the focus of her artistic investigations.
Using a rigorous self-developed technique, which she refers to as “plucking,” Vedpathak spends hours separating the paper’s fibers with a tiny pushpin. There is a distinctly spiritual aspect to her slow and disciplined process, which she likens to meditative chanting tuned to a slower pace.
The resulting works resemble swaths of lace fabric, which she paints and sews into striking abstract compositions. Part painting, part collage, Vedpathak’s sensuous, tactile constructions seemingly float while casting intricate shadows on the wall. She creates depth with nuanced shifts of color and by leaving small areas of the composition unplucked, which plays off the subtle transparency of the lace-effect.
Having lived in multiple locations, including Pune, India, where she was born, Chicago, Phoenix, and now Detroit, Vedpathak’s practice is deeply inspired by her physical environment and she often draws from the natural world. Recently, however, she has started to incorporate architectural elements of the cityscape that surrounds her, referencing the abandoned structures and peeling paint of a city in constant flux, where widespread urban decay is undergoing a slow renewal.
Through her work, Vedpathak addresses contemporary social themes, including politics, cultural identity and economic disparity, yet she also considers larger spiritual themes, exploring ideas of transformation and the cyclical nature of life. Neha Vedpathak works have been shown at Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe; Weatherspoon Museum, Greensboro North Carolina; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; and Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre, France