Woman And Art; an Inseparable Duo
BY GUNJAN SHRIVASTAVA
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – While women have been the subject of many a masterpiece, prized and adorned on the walls of prestigious museums and galleries across the world, the progress made in the representation, as well as the recognition of women as ‘the artist’ rather than ‘the muse’, has, to this day, been slow-paced.
The origins of the lack of gender equity within the artistic community can be traced back to the fact that women weren’t allowed to enter artistic professions or receive training until 1870. However, with that said, it’s hard to understand why more than century later women are still fighting against being type casted as second fiddle to their male counterparts. Theories about the cause of this disparity within the artistic community have ranged from cultural biases in the interpretation of art, the disproportioned diversity of curators, collectors, and gallerists as well as the common ‘isms’ that plague women in any field they call their dominion.
Nigerian-born, visual artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby has said, “You don’t exist if you’re not represented. I felt a need to claim my own social existence by making the representation happen.”
This bold new stance for women in art has created a wave of transformation with its effect echoing across the world.
To India’s women artists, art has served as an outlet to express their struggle as well as to draw attention to the plight of India’s women as well as the societal pressures that are placed on our shoulders. And while all may not have experienced commercial acclaim in their lifetime, they certainly have attained critical acclaim.
Perhaps one of the most prolific of these canvas matriarchs is Amrita Sher-Gill who, in her hauntingly soul-searching self-portraits highlighted the culture as well as the despair of rural 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 yet another contemporary artist, who through her series of nude paintings, depicted the female form in a resolute and powerful disposition, showcasing the strength of a woman. These incredible artists have helped pave the way for a generation of artists.
There is visual illustrator Arunima Bose, who in her interactive installation titled ‘In Full Bloom: Playing with Pleasure’ wanted to normalize female sexuality. Illustrator and installation artist Shilo Shiv Suleman combines art and technology to create work that aims to drive social change. In fact, she’s even founded the Fearless Collective, which is a coalition of 400 Indian artists, who use art as a medium to protest gender violence.
And with current generations taking on the mantle of challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries of our representation and our place in this world, the future holds a multitude of opportunities, exciting adventures, and gender as well as era-defining movements.