Cooking, washing, cleaning, mothering, managing, adjusting — the ‘average’ Indian woman juggles all this and more in the course of a single day. “And yet, when you ask some ladies what they do, they reply with a degree of embarrassment, ‘I am a housewife’ as if their work is negligible,” says artist Basuki Dasgupta. “They make a huge difference, they are the main pillars of a home and society.”
“It troubles me that society never adequately recognises or respects the contribution of these women,” says Bauski, whose ongoing virtual exhibition pays homage to the daily efforts of women from all walks of life.
“Though things are slowly changing, women are yet to get their due. I have seen women engaging in manual labour under harsh conditions, and quite often, there will be no men working in a similar capacity on that site,” he says.
Titled ‘Everyday Goddesses,’ the artist says the series was largely inspired by his mother. “Even as a child I would see my mother as well as the other women in our colony bear the entire load of the family, sacrificing everything to keep things running,” says Basuki who hails from Bishnupur in West Bengal, but has made Tumkur, Karnataka his home since 1996.
“Apart from all this, the women in our area were very industrious — recycling and upcycling way before it became fashionable to do so. Not only were they handy with a needle and thread, they could transform scraps of fabric with kantha work.”
While he imbibed the art of turning the ordinary into something beautiful from his mother, Basuki says the terracotta temples of his hometown as well as the musical interests of his brother, who is now a professional classical singer, influenced his sense of aesthetics.
Even before he became an established artist, Basuki says his mother would help him in matters of technique and ideas, especially when raw material and stationery were scarce. He recalls an incident when he was a high school student trying his hand at creating a figurine of Goddess Saraswati. “I had decided to use ordinary paint on the idol. However, the clay was so porous, the paint just kept seeping in. It was my mother who suggested I switch on a table fan, dampen the clay and then paint the idol after its surface dried.”
Big, beautiful bindis and full, brightly coloured lips are recurring motifs in ‘Everyday Goddesses’ that comprises works of art on mixed media and took the artist around two years to complete, though he does admit the universality of his muse negates a timeline for the series.
Basuki Dasgupta’s virtual solo exhibition, Everyday Goddesses, is presented by KYNKYNY.com and will be live on their website until August 31. A specially commissioned short film by Manush John about the artist is also on the website.