Textual content by Sadaf Shaikh
Whereas watching Mom India (1957), Anu Chouhan got here throughout a scene within the movie the place Nargis’ character pulled a veil over her face when a person began speaking to her. The Vancouver-based artist was irked to see this portrayal of pressured modesty and helplessness and so she channelled her sentiments into this paintings. “I don’t care what you think,” she says. “I’m gonna do me.”
On the theme of her artworks… “I focus on a lot of feminist themes through the lens of fantasy, sci-fi and humour. I mainly draw South Asian women because growing up, I longed to see more cartoons and comic characters that looked like me.”
On the type of bride she’d be… “Marriage isn’t on my radar yet, but if I do get married, I’d want to do something unique and true to myself. I envision a destination wedding — preferably at Disneyland — and an edgy Vivienne Westwood accessory worked into a traditional desi wedding look.”
On the artists she seems to be as much as… “Ai Yazawa (creator of Nana) and Naoko Takeuchi (creator of Sailor Moon) are two Japanese manga artists who have inspired me tremendously. I’m also a huge fan of Katsuya Terada’s illustrations, as well as Jin Kim, an animation artist at Disney who sketches extraordinarily expressive characters. I’m also inspired by my fellow South Asian artists on a daily basis via social media. ”
As a artistic soul who grew up distant from her roots, this Minnesota-based artist’s work is a research in feminism by way of the ages. Presenting juxtaposing characters which are a far cry from their unique avatars, Kapil makes use of mythological characters to convey her concepts to life. For instance, her last piece in a collection titled Desi Remix which exhibits a formidable goddess Indrani saving her husband Indra by main the battle — a real reversal of the standard ‘damsel in distress’ state of affairs. The divine couple represents a feminist rebellion throughout that period with Indra deriving his identify from his spouse as an alternative of the opposite method spherical. Designing the paintings was Kapil’s approach of inviting Indian brides to embrace the facility of their very own femininity as an alternative of bending on the will of her husband (and in-laws).
On the theme of her artworks… “My work is an exploration of feminism in Indian culture. It’s about seeing how far back in history we can go and still find examples of powerful, strong women. There are so many fierce women in our culture whose accomplishments have often been swept under the rug by patriarchy, so I use art to bring their stories to life. I think it’s important to use visuals as a form of education, so I like to challenge the viewer by giving them more than just something to look at.”
On the sort of bride she’d be… “I don’t think I ever want to get married, but at the same time, you can never say never. If one day I do happen to become a bride, my aesthetic would definitely be unconventional yet traditional — one-of-a-kind and out of the box, but still true to my culture and traditions.”
On the artists she seems as much as… “My art is heavily influenced by traditional styles like classical realism and the art nouveau movement. I was always fascinated by realism and portraying the human form, so I grew up studying renaissance artists and pre-modern paintings. I love Sandro Botticelli because Birth of Venus is my favourite painting. I admire Alphonse Mucha for his intricate details, John Williams Waterhouse for his portrayal of women in mythology and Raja Ravi Varma because I always wanted to be the modern-day version of him.”
On being part of the Indian diaspora… “Growing up in the diaspora definitely created an interesting sense of identity because we were brought up between two worlds. Being an Indian American, there’s a complex set of emotions that comes with being “too brown” for white individuals however not “brown enough” for Indian individuals. In a approach, this concept of not completely becoming in influenced me to create artwork that bridges the hole. As an artist, I really feel that I’ve a duty to struggle for South Asian illustration within the U.S., provided that our tradition is among the most appropriated but least represented.”
This Calgary-based artist grew up in a really conservative family in Pakistan the place she was anticipated to behave a sure method based mostly on her (assumed) gender. From a younger age she typically felt that everybody round her solely seen her by means of the lens of being ‘rishta-ready’. Khan used her artwork to precise her frustration at being decreased to a possession to be given away in due time and drew this sneering bride.
On theme of her artworks… “I do a lot of portraits and I always end up illustrating femme characters. Most of my art has South Asian elements, but I’m moving towards exploring more subjects beyond my identity as a Pakistani immigrant.”
On the sort of bride she was… “I was a bride that did not really want a wedding but got one anyway because desi people will never turn down an opportunity to have a big party. I didn’t like being the center of attention. Rukhsati (giving away of the bride) was hard for me because I didn’t cry, while everyone else did. I couldn’t cry because I was ecstatic about finally getting out of that stifling environment. Aunties and uncles were interrogating me about my partner’s education level, job and religion. My partner’s sister showed up and tried to create a scene because she didn’t approve of me. I hadn’t slept the night before so to sum it up, I was a sleepy and uncomfortable bride who just wanted to go home.”
On the artists she seems as much as… “I love Alok V. Menon. They are a gender non-conforming performance artist, fashion icon and writer. Alok has the best outfits, and seeing their beautiful pictures on Instagram always makes my day. Their poetry is moving and touches on topics that mean a lot to me.”
As a fervent believer of truthful illustration, this Canada-based artist’s Instagram feed is full of creations that reimagine iconic imagery just like the Hole advert from the 90s, this time with South Asian ladies. Bhanot repeatedly promotes the work of fellow Indian diaspora artists in a bid to catapult them into the limelight with their white friends. This specific illustration of the badass desi bride made it to her canvas as a result of it chipped away on the picture-perfect notion of how Indian brides are imagined to placed on a demure efficiency once they get married. It allowed her to current a humorous tackle the ‘No Boxed Gifts’ customized on the underside of all desi wedding ceremony invites.
On the theme of her artworks… “My works attempt to highlight the intricacies of the female gaze and the dichotomy of being a first-generation South Asian in North America. The subjects talk back and challenge the societal norm for women of our community and the subject matter usually plays into the duality of belonging neither here nor there.”
On the type of bride she’d be… “I don’t know if I’ll ever get married but if I do, I’d definitely need a planner to maintain my inner peace through it all since I am such a perfectionist.”
On the artists she appears as much as… “I love the works of Divya Mehra, Sara Maple, Mickalene Thomas and Kehinde Wiley because they are all producing phenomenal art and are speaking out about issues like identity, racism, homophobia and sexism that plague our society. They are creating a space for conversations which shouldn’t be tough to have but still are.”
The illustration of an Indian bride with pink hair sporting a fitted bustier and a G-string and holding a cigarette between her fingers was one of many first photographs that this Indian artist created when she started exploring her id and questioning the boundaries of her cultural publicity. She accepts that she had all the time been a wild baby and a insurgent, doing all of the issues that a ‘good Indian girl’ was not alleged to do. On the similar time, she was quintessentially Indian within the sense that she was very near her household. Feeling like she by no means actually slot in anyplace, she realised that she needed to discover artwork that positioned the Indian lady within the center floor between being liberated and conventional.
On the type of bride she’d be… “I can’t see myself getting married because I’m so immature, but I do hope it happens someday. As a bride, I’d like to be understated, elegant and elevated. I don’t believe in over-embellished, gaudy bridal wear. I’d like to represent a thoughtful, powerful and modern Indian woman who is marrying a worthy and respectful partner.”
On the artists she appears as much as… “I’m into a wide variety of art and artists. Recently I’ve been extremely inspired by the works of Nick Knight and SHOWstudio. I think fashion photography and film can bring dreams to life and I hope to do the same with my art.”
On how being Indian impacts her artwork… “My nationality pretty much sets the basis for my experiences — it’s very important to know your past if you want to go forward. India is a bubbling cauldron filled with ideas ready to explode. Directors like Anurag Kashyap — who used my art for his film Manmarizyaan (2018) — have a way of introducing modern/alternate Indian narratives into mainstream culture. Being able to collaborate with such individuals only makes me stronger as a creative and I’m very happy to be part of this cultural revolution.”