New Delhi – While women have been the subject of many masterpieces, prized and adorned on the walls of prestigious museums and galleries around the world, advances in representation, as well as recognition of women as ‘artist’ rather than ‘muse’, has, to date, been slow. While it may seem strange that the archetypal concept of gender disparity should make its presence felt in a community that is seemingly so liberal and open in its philosophy, the reality is that it is pretty much the same as any other industry and widely spread.
The origins of the lack of gender equity within the artistic community can be traced back to the fact that women were not allowed to enter artistic professions or receive training until 1870. However, that said, it is hard to understand why more than a century later, women still struggle with being cast as second fiddle to their male counterparts. Theories about the cause of this disparity within the artistic community range from cultural biases in the interpretation of art, to the disproportionate diversity of curators, collectors and gallery owners, as well as the common “isms” that plague women in all areas they call their domination. .
However, today, with the foundations laid by women before us, female artists have begun to take the art world by storm, commanding respect, recognition and a place of their own. Nigerian-born visual artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby captured this feeling beautifully when she said, “You don’t exist if you’re not represented. I felt the need to claim my own social existence by making representation happen.
This bold new position for women in art created a wave of transformation whose effect echoed across the world.
In India, women have suffered countless persecutions and stigmatizations for centuries, in the name of culture and tradition. However, over time, a brave few have taken up alms, with the paintbrush as their weapon of choice, to raise awareness and, in that awareness, inspire change. For Indian women artists, art served as a recluse and a mouthpiece; it provides an outlet to express their struggle as well as draw attention to the plight of Indian women as well as the societal pressures that are placed on our shoulders. From paintings and sculptures to installations, these artists have made their presence felt and have done so since pre-independence. And while not all of them may have achieved commercial success in their lifetime, they certainly received critical acclaim.
Perhaps one of the most prolific of these canvas matriarchs is Amrita Sher-Gill who, in her spellbinding and intriguing self-portraits, brought to light the culture as well as the desperation of rural India; earning her the title of Frida Kahlo of India. Contemporary artist and Padma Shri recipient Anjolie Ela Menon is another who, in one of her most renowned works, “Shabnam,” explored the hidden emotions and sensuality of women. Rekha Rodwittiya is another contemporary artist who, through her series of nude paintings, has portrayed the female form in a resolute and powerful disposition, showcasing the strength of a woman. Consciously or not, all of these incredible artists and their collections and creations have helped pave the way for a generation of artists who are unapologetic in their creations as well as their meaning.
Take Goa-based visual illustrator Arunima Bose, who in her interactive installation titled “In Full Bloom: Playing with Pleasure” sought to normalize female sexuality. Illustrator and installation artist Shilo Shiv Suleman combines art and technology to create works that aim to drive social change. In fact, she even founded the Fearless Collective, which is a coalition of 400 Indian artists, who use art as a means of protesting gender-based violence.
American Abstract Expressionist painter Grace Hartigan once said, “A work of art is the record of a magnificent struggle. and as you read through the pages of history, you will begin to understand that women not only fought and persevered to be heard, but triumphed against all odds. It’s no wonder, then, that as you delve deeper into the relationship women have had with art, you notice that their effort is not simply to create aesthetic value, but to bring about change through every brushstroke. .
Whether as muse, subject or creator; standing on the shoulders of exceptional women before us, the duo of women and art is perhaps the most enigmatic relationship that has taken more than a century to evolve. And with current generations taking it upon themselves to challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of our representation and place in this world, the future holds a wealth of opportunities, exciting adventures and life-defining movements. genre and time. (IANS)