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'It's Good to be Queen' by Mithu Sen

One of India's young and talented contemporary artists, Mithu Sen's art practice involves construction, installation and painting. This young artist is already influential figure in the contemporary art scene in India.

In a new show of her works, titled 'It's Good to be Queen', at Bose Pacia Gallery, New York, an evolving site-specific installation cum artist-in-residence project by the artist is being showcased. It is an inaugural exhibition of Bose Pacia's new Artist Space.

In her new creation, the artist explores the process of adjusting to new time, space and solitude, which is at once disorienting and illuminating for her, enabling an investigation into her known and unknown selves. As an introductory note to the show mentions: 'This personal exploration results in an overall artistic venture, incorporating traditional paintings and installations as well as treasured mementos, daily ephemera and the intangible contributions of visiting guests.'

Born in 1971 in West Bengal, poet-painter Mithu Sen studied fine art in Santiniketan and Glasgow. She has had numerous international exhibitions, and has received several international awards including the Charles Wallace India Trust Award in the UK. Among her important shows are 'Drawing Room', a suite of 80 large as well as intimate-scale drawings, at Chemould early this year and 'I hate pink'. Her works makes strong statements on gender inequality.

The New Delhi based artist's manipulation of found materials combined with her morbidly playful paintings generate unusual and provocative associations around the subjects of gender, domesticity, sexuality, kitsch ' recurrent themes in her earlier work. Yet in the context of a space, which is simultaneously studio and domicile, life and work become tightly intertwined and her art takes on extremely personal overtones. For example, sepia photos encased in an album or delicately monogrammed teabags represent fond memories of moments spent with her many visitors.

The works are mostly in Mixed media on Paper as part of her new show wherein by delving into the rituals of greeting and hosting guests, which are at once a pleasure and an obligation to her. The artist is prompted here to explore the everyday aspects of hospitality. The artist deals with the unspoken but known almost automatically: the acts of host / guest relation. Being invited to inhabit a space, Mithu Sen is exploring aesthetically the radical quality of this invitation: negotiating cultural boundaries and personal character, performing as an artist and simultaneously as a guest/host.

So, as a guest herself, she is grateful for creative freedom, but remains wary of overstepping bounds and possibly imposing upon her hosts. As a hostess, she enjoys, even craves company, but struggles as to how much one ought to accommodate friends, never mind strangers. Yet by inviting visitors into the very private domains of bedroom and bathroom, and by permitting them to handle her possessions and scrutinize her way of life and art, she far exceeds the normal boundaries of hospitality. It's the dilemma that she puts across through the show.

As the artist herself puts it: ' In different contexts we enter and greet differently, we are received differently. This negotiation of distance and proximity is the key to our everyday lives. We might want to touch and kiss more, much more than the other wants it, or it is 'accepted'. Or we might choose to be cold and distant, as if it is an easy choice! Welcome, negotiate, become aware, and lose yourself if you are still able...' One must choose, make an immediate decision when confronted with another person regarding striking intimacy. The show invites us to celebrate the best of both self-indulgence and generosity.

The show titled 'It's Good to be Queen' continues till July 28, 2006

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