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Raghav Babbar ICA Miami

Raghav Babbar Finds Beauty in the Ordinary

The artist speaks to works on view at ICA Miami.

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Raghav Babbar’s Portraits Depict Everyday People

Raghav Babbar is a London-based painter whose practice is concerned with capturing portraits that celebrate life’s simplicity, emotions, and colors. Inspired by the faces of his hometown of Rohtak, India, Babbar’s portraits offer emotive snapshots of ordinary people, seen in commonplace moments like waiting in line, knitting, or gazing into the distance—instances and individuals that might otherwise be overlooked. Pulling from films or his own photos and memories for reference, Babbar’s compositions powerfully capture expression in thick, textural layers of oil paint that can take days at a time to dry.

Babbar’s Work is Featured in a Group Show at ICA Miami

During Miami Art Week, a selection of Babbar’s work is featured in a group exhibition at ICA Miami, which is open through April 28, 2024. The show looks at artists from Southeast Asia, and Babbar’s portraits can be seen alongside work by the likes of Melissa Joseph and Sahana Ramakrishnan. Captivated by the moments of beautiful simplicity and raw feeling Babbar has infused into the presentation, Whitewall had the pleasure of learning more about the artist and his practice.

Raghav Babbar ICA Miami

Raghav Babbar, “Lost My Youth Here,” 2023, Oil on canvas, 60 x 40 inches; courtesy of the artist.

WHITEWALLER: How does the exhibition at ICA MIAMI speak to your creative mission as a whole?

RAGHAV BABBAR: My creative mission as a whole is very much this: for viewers to feel the presence of India in my work. I want to give people the opportunity to travel through art, and hopefully motivate them to physically visit and experience my culture in real life. It really is just about sharing, and celebrating. I believe this exhibition translates that very well, as it shows other artists from Southeast Asia, depicting their version of life, their culture, and background. I feel honored and really humbled to be a part of it.

The Artist Often Works with Multiple Canvases at Once

WW: Your paintings require a lot of patience, as the layers necessary to get the kind of texture your works possess can take days to dry. Can you tell us more about the process?

RB: Back home, my paintings would take a few hours to dry fully, so using layers was never so much of an issue. Coming [to London], though, it takes days if not weeks when it’s very humid for the impasto to be dry enough to add more layers. 

It’s something I’ve learned to embrace, and it allows me to work on multiple canvases at a time and build them up slowly. I really enjoy this part of my process, as some works will have vibrant palettes while others will be more muted. I can work across the spectrum of emotions by having a few canvases around me that are works in progress.

Raghav Babbar ICA Miami

Raghav Babbar, “Aroma,” 2023, Oil on canvas, 80 x 50 inches; courtesy of the artist.

Raghav Babbar’s Practice Pulls From Images of Life in India

WW: Your work is rooted deeply in reality. What first drew you to capturing everyday people living ordinary lives?

RB: Living far from home, looking through photos of my family, friends, old movies, and documentaries on India, it makes me reminisce about where I come from. I think people take the ordinary for granted when there is so much to enjoy and celebrate. If we take the time to look, we’ll pick up on beauty all around. That’s why I want to present everyday, normal, ordinary people and life events. Waiting in line for the shops, reading a book, taking the train, sitting with friends—it’s all fleeting moments that make up our days. They’re worth preserving and celebrating because they’re symbols of life.

WW: What do you feel others can gain from experiencing these snapshots of emotion that your paintings portray?

RB: I hope it opens people’s eyes to the everyday beauty we’re surrounded by. I hope they see the beauty of my culture, and that it plants a desire in their hearts to visit and experience India with their own eyes. Our lives are quickly burdened with heaviness and criticism, when sometimes it’s good for the soul to simply celebrate living. That’s what I hope to achieve with my painting.

Raghav Babbar ICA Miami

Raghav Babbar, “Time is Visible,” 2023, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches; courtesy of the artist.

Raghav Babbar ICA Miami

Raghav Babbar, “Amar (Self Portrait),” 2023, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, courtesy of the artist.



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A few of our favorites from Design Miami/’s well-curated collection of pieces by leading global designers, open this week.


Go inside the worlds
of Art, Fashion, Design,
and Lifestyle.