A uniquely daring artist who specialises in the aesthetic representation of human forms, Papia Ghoshal comes across as a modern revivalist who triumphantly carries forward the illustrious tradition of the Renaissance masters. Forbidden Dreams, the ongoing exhibition of her paintings, appears as a series of observations of the human body, exploring its sexual grace, strength and sadness. Though pursuing the Western tradition of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael, her nude studies present a surprisingly fresh view of masculinity. Ghoshal?s structural visualisations of the female form depend on more than spatial dimension and proportion to create in them an aura of power, vitality and spirituality. The sheer intensity of insight that she puts into developing her characters makes one certain that she paints not just what she sees but what she feels of the human body. Nevertheless, the strange, almost magical, transformation of her human forms goes beyond anthropology to enter the realm of poetic metamorphosis.
Human forms and man-woman relationships form a central subject in many of her paintings. Her paintings also depict the strength of women through mythological figures.
Painter Papia Ghoshal, one of the directors of The London Magazine, has always said it as it is — stripping her subjects of social conventions, hypocrisies and taboos. The woman, who made the art world sit up when she displayed a series of 200 provocative paintings in Prague and London late last year, was just as in-your-face at the recent exhibition at the AIFACS Gallery.
Her patent subject — the individuality of women —
is expressed through mythology and explored through man-woman relationships
and faceless figures in the Fantasy series and other works. While her
canvases have aggressively erotic images, Ghoshal chastely says she is
a firm believer in the traditional concept of love “of the Laila-Majnu
sort”. Love, she says, is a dying emotion, killing with it, among other
things, the institution of marriage. “My paintings are about modern life
as it is,” she says. And if she leaves London occasionally to walk through
the villages of India, it is to have a glimpse of a way of life as it
PAPIA GHOSHAL is one of the most significant and prominent of the new generation of artists making their names in Bengal. Based in Kolkata, she is presenting a series of works based on Indian mythological goddesses, including various and daring transformations of Kali and Durga, where she adapts their traditional forms to capture the innate powers that all women possess.
Inauguration: 27 November 08, 18:00 hrs / with a reception
Exhibition: 28 November 08 to 09 January 09, Mo-Fr 15:00-17:00 hrs
Her name gets its meaning from a bird which sings and brings rain. Reflecting this persona is painter Papia Ghosal who likes to splash her canvas with the myriad hues of freedom. She looks cool ‘n’ casual in her orange trousers and a white sweater and it doesn’t take long to hit off the conversation on her favourite subject - painting.
The 30-something Kolkata-based painter was in the capital recently to exhibit her paintings at the AIFACS Gallery. And she fondly recounts the time when she first wielded the brush. “I must have been barely 3 or 4 years old! But I knew early on that this is what I wanted to do...and being an obstinate child, my parents did not really have a choice!” she laughs.
Hailing from a traditional, orthodox Hindu Brahmin background, Ghosal is proud to have made it this far on her own merit. Studying Fine Arts in London made her realise the scope that the global market had to offer. Her first exhibition in Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata in 2003 won her a favourable response with four paintings being sold off in four days. Later, her work was also appreciated widely in London, Prague and other cities of Europe.
Human forms and man-woman relationships form a central subject in many of her paintings. Her paintings also depict the strength of women through mythological figures. Infact she is of the view that women are the best men! “Women are mentally very strong and hence this firm belief. I think it’s essentially my unconventional style that works in my favour. I don’t give a barrier between fantasy and reality...instead I club the two...that, I feel, makes my artwork appreciated,” she says.
This ‘uncoventional’ nature of hers is extended to her personal life as well. A woman of many talents, Ghosal also loves to shake a leg doing the Samba and Lambada dance, drives a steam engine in London and enjoys penning poetic verses! Prod her more about these parallel skills and she just shrugs off nonchalantly, “I was always very strange from the beginning! That aspect of me gets reflected in my paintings as well.”
She strongly feels that the art market, at present, is dictated by mediocrity,
which does not give imagination a chance. “The art market should switch
direction from safe, conditioned paintings. Unless market demand changes
and imagination comes in, mediocrity will remain. So why not give thinking
and imagination a better chance,” asserts Ghosal.