Giving expression to female identity

Group exhibition

In the 70s, there was a move exhorting all to revel and proudly claim one’s identity as an Indian.

There was a simultaneous effort, especially amongst women artists to give expression to their ‘female identity’ as distinct from the artworks produced by men. 

Renowned painters like Arpita Singh and Nalini Malani were soon followed by young women artists, few of whom have exhibited their works in this show called ‘A New Portraiture’, an exhibition of drawing, etchings and paintings by Haren Das, A Ramachandran, Somnath Hore, Seema Kohli, Arpana Kaur, Madhvi Parekh, Jaya Ganguly, Sudhir Patwardhan and Rekha Rodwittiya, to name a few.

Delineating themselves on canvas, their portrayal of themselves was often startling and disturbing. Moving away from male representations of the female as desirable, nurturing or mute, but always appealing, an artist like Ganguly provocatively bared her anguish and sense of violation in her artwork ‘A Woman’s Agony’. On the other hand, artist like Rodwittiya gave expression to her sexual fantasies in bizarre and surreal landscapes, while Parekh found her shakti in personal versions of female deities ‘Kali’.

A growing maturity and poise becomes apparent in women artists like Kaur who, in a work like ‘Letters to Ghalib’, sees herself in conversation with the poet.

It is this evolution of women artists that could be considered a new kind of portraiture of the self, the exhibition also showcases a range of graphics. The spare and sparse line drawings of Hore and Ramachandran describe a world full of inequality, poverty and indifference.  

The exhibition, A New Portraiture’, is on till October 1 at Art Heritage Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam.

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