Born 1976 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Lives and works in Weston, Connecticut, and Baltimore, Maryland.
Mequitta Ahuja is a contemporary figurative painter with African American and Indian American roots. She seeks to redefine self-portraiture as picture-making rather than an exercise in identity. She describes her earlier work as automythography, a combination of personal narrative with cultural and personal mythology. By merging past and present ideas of self-portraiture, Ahuja’s work destabilizes the genre’s old and current conventions, especially in regards to self-portraits of women or people of color. Her approach to portraiture is informed by Poussin’s 1650 self-portrait, Velasquez’s Las Meninas, the work of Kerry James Marshall, and the author Doris Lessing. Ahuja also draws inspiration from Mughal manuscripts and Buddhist wall drawings. Her practice poses timely questions about the power dynamics underpinning image production and art history.
Her most recent body of work shown in the 2020 exhibition Ma is a technical departure from her signature additive style. In these paintings, she scrapes away paint, “figuring something new out of loss. What’s left behind, that’s the painting.”