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Rupy C. Tut

Rupy C. Tut

Figure in yellow against dark blue background with scaled creature swerving throughout the background.
Figure in yellow against dark blue background with scaled creature swerving throughout the background.

As the ICA SF is an institution significantly engaged in being a space for experimentation, for her solo show opening this fall Rupy C. Tut has been diving deeper into her pigments and patterns as well as experimenting with new surfaces, mediums, and scale. This opportunity to push her practice is welcomed, “experimentation does not scare me generally because putting in labor towards my work is the nature of my making. The hours it takes to make pigments or to burnish or add finer details of a face or forests have trained me to sit with my work, speak and listen to the process I am engaged in. I am using this learned patience to push my work for this solo to be honest and inventive.”

Tut preserves traditional methods of making pigments and paper, creating delicate works inspired by traditional Indian painting (also known as miniature painting) and calligraphy. Her practice is process-driven and includes personal meditation on the nuances of hybrid identity, belonging, and cyclical time. Engaging with the histories embedded in her forms and materials, Tut weaves contemporary images and references into a centuries-old visual language, guiding viewers to see connections between past and present.

For this collection of work, Tut is exploring figurative postures and physical traits she has not brought in before, such as a pregnant figure and figures at rest, in new desert landscapes. In making work about displacement, her effort has been to investigate how one traumatic event shapes a human and their future path. However, most of us are not undergoing single or multiple catastrophic displacements. For most of us the struggle is how we hold on to hope as we continue to experience slower and less intense traumatic events sequentially. To reflect this experience, the central characters show glimpses of this everyday life and struggle where hope and doom hang in balance as they make their best efforts to remain optimistic.

In Tut’s earlier work exploring the narrative of displacement, she has extracted and funneled mostly virtuous traits of strength, struggle, dignity and resilience for her central female characters. For this series she is shifting her attention towards states of complacency, fear, rest, hope, anxiety and exhaustion expressed through her central characters. “These characters are not as obviously heroic as the ones I have painted before but how can the everyday act of surviving with hope not be a heroic one?”

The environment for these characters is one filled with beauty as well as natural wonder, seducing the viewer to look closely as deeper narratives are revealed. As an artist of immigrant upbringing and a resilient setting, Tut has always felt more compelled to tell stories of struggle and resilience. Tut is creating work that celebrates the human capacity to exist with hope in an environment of high anxiety and unpredictability. “As a mother, as an immigrant and as an artist, tackling the unpredictable feels like a daily routine. To highlight this capacity to exist on shaky ground while believing in a hopeful outcome is what I am infusing within the works for this solo.”


September 23, 2023–February 18, 2024


Artist Website & Instagram


Rupy C. Tut, Heroine, 2022 Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco. Photo by: Eric Ruby

Rupy C. Tut lives and works in Oakland, California. Her work has been presented through exhibitions and talks at the de Young Museum, San Francisco; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; London City Hall; Stanford University; The Peel Art Gallery and Museum Archives, Toronto; a solo exhibition Rupy C. Tut: A Recipe for Brown Skin at the Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara; and a solo exhibition Rupy C. Tut: Search and Rescue at the Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.