Areez Katki

INFO

NameAreez Katki (he/they)
Born1989
Country of BirthIndia
Place of ResidenceTāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Mumbai
EthnicitiesPersian
Dealer GalleryTim Melville, McLeavey Gallery, Tarq Gallery
ArtformVisual arts, Craft/Object
ReligionZoroastrian

ABOUT

Areez Katki is a multidisciplinary artist and writer who works between India and Aotearoa. Within his practice Katki weaves his identity as a queer Persian Zoroastrian living in Aotearoa with his varied interests in cosmologies, pre- and post-colonial histories, sexuality and archaeology. His practice is multifaceted and spans knitting, garment-making, embroidery, beading, drawing and painting.

Katki was born in Mumbai (then Bombay) within a close Persian Zoroatrian community. In 2022 Katki and his family moved to Tāmaki Makaurau, where they became a part of a Parsi community in East Tāmaki. Katki has inherited many of the creative skills that he uses throughout his practice from the older generations of women in his family. His grandmother taught him to knit at the age of seven. His mother, a garment maker, along with his grandmother, taught him how to embroider. His aunt taught him beadwork. Katki has said, “I’m this young, still growing craftsperson who is slowly trying to inherit the secrets of this neglected centuries-old trade.”

In 2012, after studying art history, English literature and philosophy at the University of Auckland, Katki began creating knitwear and dabbling in embroidery. He started a successful knitwear line and showed his collection Perennial at the Miss Crabb store in Tāmaki Makaurau, recalling that, “Everything was made by me: every piece, every garment, every jumper or sweater or scarf that I embroidered or hand-knitted was made by me.”

In 2016, Katki wanted to shift his creative practice to fit within the realm of contemporary art. As he explains “Until very recently fashion was extremely size-ist, capitalistic and Euro-centric. I felt very uncomfortable around that.” He still occasionally dabbles in the realm of fashion — in 2018 he collaborated with the Tāmaki Makaurau-based sustainable fashion label Sherie Muijs, embroidering shirts with his signature approach.

Katki applied the beading and embroidery skills he learned from the women in his family to his first solo exhibition, producing work during an artist’s residency in Mumbai. During this time Katki explored the roots of Parsi textile traditions and travelled to Iran, Gujarat and West Azerbaijan. This resulting solo exhibition, titled Bildungsroman, was held at Malcolm Smith Gallery in Howick in 2018 and used a variety of different fabrics onto which Katki embroidered intricate scenes and patterns, playing with colour, composition and scale. This exhibition explored Katki’s Parsi heritage and his disruption of gender roles, given these embroidery practices are largely performed by women. One piece had the phrase 'GOD BLESS OUR HOMO' stitched into it, which was one of the more bold pieces that wove Katki’s sexuality into his work as an equally important part of his perspective, heritage and art practice.

In History reserves but a few lines for you (2021) at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, hand-embroidered handkerchiefs were hung from the ceilings as if they were floating in the room. The combination of the precise thread work with lightweight muslin cloths created tactile and delicate compositions. Working from a robust knowledge base, Katki managed to weave together references to David Hockney, stories from Persian epics, and imagery of Freddie Mercury, encapsulating a long timeline of queer history in one hand-loomed teatowel. Many of the cloths used for his embroidery were handkerchiefs and fabrics that were once owned by his family members.

In 2022, Katki’s work was displayed alongside Khadim Ali's in There Is No Other Home But This at the Govett-Brewster in Ngāmotuymouth. Both artists explore ancient Persian histories through a contemporary lens, and include art forms either passed down to the artists, or done in collaboration with the knowledge-holders.

Katki has exhibited globally and his artwork is in several museum collections throughout Aotearoa. In Tāmaki Makaurau he is represented by Tim Melville Gallery, in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Auckland by McLeavey Gallery, and in India by Tarq Gallery, Mumbai. He also holds a MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University. His writing was included in the book Past the Tower, Under the Tree: Twelve Stories of Learning in Community, edited by Balamohan Shingade and Erena Shingade.

In 2024 Katki will be presenting work alongside Caitlin Devoy in the Personal Structures, as part of the 2024 Venice Biennale.

LINKS

Key works / presentations

2023 — Some ribs are always soft, McLeavey Gallery, Pōneke

2023 — Yes, I am a Garden, Tim Melville Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

2023 — Fruit Cubab, Te Tuhi, Tāmaki Makaurau

2022 — There Is No Other Home But This, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Ngāmotu, with Khadim Ali

2022 — Event, Memory, Metaphor, Tarq Gallery, Mumbai, India, group exhibition

2022 — Vanishing Act, Centre A, Vancouver, group exhibition

2022 — Twisting, Turning, Winding, Objectspace, Tāmaki Makaurau, group exhibition

2021 — Bildungroman (& Other stories), Tarq Gallery, Mumbai

2021 — History Reserves but a Few Lines for You, Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Pōneke

2020 — On Chroma, Sumner Gallery Tauranga

2019 — Uncruising, Phoenix Gallery, Athens

2018 — Bildungsroman, Malcolm Smith Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau


Key awards

2024/2025 — Creative New Zealand: Berlin Visual Arts Residency, Berlin

2023 — Tylee Cottage Residency, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui

2021 — Enjoy Contemporary Art Space and Rita Angus Cottage Trust: Summer Residency, Pōneke

2020 — World Zoroastrian Association MA Scholarship, London

2020 — East Auckland Council Spatial Intervention Grant, Tāmaki Makaurau

2019 — Auckland Print Studio Lithography Residency, Tāmaki Makaurau

2019 — Arthur Bunder Press Printmaking Residency, Mumbai

2019 — Villa Exarchia Artist Residency, Athens

Last updated: 5 March 2024 Suggest an Edit