An artist that has never shied away from controversy, to the point where he’s even been arrested and imprisoned for his art, Joseph Hadrin’s work covers a wide range of mediums that include performance art, painting, and sculpture. His sexually diverse pieces are a commentary on the rights of women around the globe, especially in his native country of India.
Joseph Hadrin was born in the remote snow covered mountains of Ladakh, India to an Indian mother and British missionary father in 1969 before the family relocated to Bristol, UK in 1971. And while Hadrin has grown up with what he considers a primarily British upbringing he spent much of his life visiting areas of India and becoming familiar with the land and culture of his birth. He is the only boy in a large family that includes 11 sisters, granting him a unique perspective and sensitivity to women’s issues and sexuality.
Hadrin’s work is a social commentary on women’s rights around the globe, inspired by his mother and sisters and what they gained in social and sexual freedom by moving from a remote area of India to the UK. Combining several mediums such as sculpture, painting, and performance art, Hadrin’s installations are atypical of work inspired by India. Exploring the laws regarding sex toys and sexual freedoms in India and other countries around the globe Hadrin touches on many complex issues with a deeper understanding than would normally be attributed to someone brandishing a dildo painted with the face of the Mona Lisa.
Education, Shows, and Awards
Hadrin completed an MFA with distinction at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1995. Since that time he has been working steadily and completed an extensive portfolio. His most recent solo shows were in London at the Crypt Gallery in 2012 and in Amsterdam at the Kulter in 2014. He credits past performance artists Carolee Shneeman and Vito Acconci with influencing his current work; their sexually diverse performances included Shneeman bringing forth a scroll from her vagina to read to a live audience and an unseen but clearly heard Acconci masturbating under a ramp while visitors to the gallery walked over top. Hadrin’s work isn’t so sexually explicit; he won’t be found nude in the gallery but he credits Shneeman and Acconci with opening the way for his work to be expressed and accepted.
In 2009 Hadrin was awarded the Anapo Art Award, a prestigious award for Indian artists in the UK, only weeks before he was arrested in New Delhi and charged with an indecent act. He had been using a hand held, non-phallic Bodywand Massager while reading from Indian laws regarding the sex toys. Three months of hard labour and his passion for his medium and his message only grew stronger, inspiring his latest collection that’s been over five years in the making.
He is extremely proud to be recently represented in the collection in the National Gallery of Modern Art in India where a video of a performance piece from 2013 plays on a loop and is the newly appointed judge of the The Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change. He spends his time between his childhood home in Bristol, UK and his beachside studio in Melbourne, Australia.