Art has always been fascinated by the feminine. But, the ones to wield the brush and unveil the mystique have historically been men. New York City’s art scene is rightfully challenging that by platforming female artists. This month, dotted across the city are galleries showcasing art by South Asian women who delve into the feminine. Below are four exhibits by artists across the South Asian diaspora that explore the female body, mind, and emotions.
Set against the backdrop of the “Mera Jism, Meri Marzi” (My Body, My Choice) and Aurat March movements, Beghairati Ki Nishaani explores shame and Pakistani women’s fight for agency. In what can best be described as a South Asian-utopia, with its proud display of the female body, plastered across the white walls of the gallery are femme copper castings of hands, breasts, and nipples that Japanwala spent months in Karachi creating.
Among the models are Oscar winning Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and abduction-survivor Dua Mangi, with all her muses in large being women and LGBTQ educators, artists, and activists contributing to the fight for gender equality.
This series is Japanwala’s imagination of how people in the future will study and understand Karachi’s resistance to gender inequity – they are her way of assuring that “our lives and our stories are part of the fabric of our people, and will continue to be so even hundreds of years from now” says Japanwala.
Banerjee’s installation puts you right in the whimsical, complex, and bold imaginations of women. She seamlessly mosaics materials and colors from different cultures and experiences to create a fairy-tale like world that lets viewers into Banerjee’s world. The animals in her paintings have human-like characteristics making them distinctly endearing and the women in her sculptures all carry an ancient stoicism to create a world built on delightful contradiction. Her work places you in a story of enchantment and adventure as told by a female narrator.
Maria Qamar, aka HateCopy, is an Instagram favorite. Her digital art jumps off the page and looks like it could be straight from a comic book– but bigger, bolder, and more colorful. In Bloody Phool, Qamar explores the fantasy and reality of womanhood and female sexuality as dictated by Bollywood’s tropes. The tension of the fantasy and reality reveal feminine rage and relatable outcomes of deception and lies from idealized romance. Qamar is the mouthpiece of the modern Desi woman.
Safe Spaces, Natasha Tripathi
Creation and destruction is a centerpiece of Hindu values, often illustrated through the stories of powerful goddesses. In her work, Tripathi seeks to deconstruct and rebuild her origin story through the lens of the female experience, natural world, modern New York City, traditional India, yogic philosophy, and her own identity. Safe Spaces takes screenshots of these unique moments in our day to day lives that converge the feminine with creation and destruction.
Discover more from GUAP’s Arts and Culture section here.