Kozhikode

Colours spotlight women’s quest for societal space

Transgender activist Sheethal Shyam taking a look at the paintings by Sooraja K.S. in Kozhikode on Monday.

Transgender activist Sheethal Shyam taking a look at the paintings by Sooraja K.S. in Kozhikode on Monday.

Thantethu aaya/ aakenda/ akatha/ allathaya idam (the space that was one’s own/ that should have been/ that didn’t become/ that was lost). The title in itself is quite adequate to incite the curiosity of any normal art connoisseur. When a young woman talks about her own space that was never hers to begin with, there opens a whole new perspective of identity and politics of identity.

For Sooraja K.S., her latest exhibition of paintings is an attempt to highlight the lack of space experienced by women everywhere, despite the tall talk of gender equality.

The exhibition that began at the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Art Gallery in Kozhikode on Monday features around 50 paintings of various sizes and shapes by Sooraja made over a period of four years, but mostly during the two years of the pandemic when she had enough time to think about the matters of space.

Hair seems to be a very important symbol in almost all the paintings of Sooraja, who has played around with this part of the human body. Most of the paintings feature the female nude body in various positions, even yogic poses, with hair being the only accessory and a powerful one at that. For Sooraja, the hair sometimes doubles as a chair, a dress, a support system and sometimes, it takes “root” and joins the female body with nature.

“It is often perceived that hair is an integral part of a woman’s beauty or identity, for that matter. I shaved off my hair at one stage and some of the paintings are an after effect of that”, she said of the dozen paintings in which she is seen showing off her bald head and making a variety of faces.

Sooraja has experimented much with the medium. While most of the paintings are done in plain ink and water colour on paper, she has tried textured paper in some for some added effect. There are a few paintings in acrylic, in which, Sooraja portrays the female body performing the most mundane of household tasks.

The exhibition was opened on Monday by Trangender Justice Board member Sheethal Shyam. It will conclude on January 30.


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 12:21:01 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/colours-spotlight-womens-quest-for-societal-space/article38321148.ece