An exhibition of new works by Mithu Sen

An exhibition of new works by Mithu Sen is a testimony to the New Delhi based artist's manipulation of found materials combined with her morbidly playful paintings that generate unusual and provocative associations around the subjects of gender, domesticity, sexuality, kitsch. In fact, these have been recurrent themes in her works.

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 her new series of works, the artist transforms the exhibit into a lush forest in which the artist pursues the idea of self and the influence of society on the development of her individuality and personality in a broader context.

Presented by Bose Pacia Gallery at their NY venue, the exhibition titled 'Half Full: Part I', which continues till November 3, 2007, is a large-scale installation, including mixed media works on paper, photographs, and video. Through these works, she explores the various permutations of identity that one can create and try on, depending on necessity or desire.

The artist wants to the viewer to go through a similar process of self-analysis through the exhibition. In 2006, she participated in a residency program in Bahia, Brazil, which has had a profound impact on her work. Her experiences, while traveling abroad and interacting with people around the world, provided some of the inspiration for Half Full. While traveling, Sen was often surprised by others' reactions to her. She has translated these interactions into a body of works that incorporates her own personal experience into a body of work that can provoke the viewer onto new self-critical tangents.

Born in 1971, she received her BA and MFA in painting from Visva Bharti, Kala Bhavan, in Santiniketan, in 1991. She also studied at the Glasgow School of Art in 2001, and has had numerous solo shows in India and abroad. The gallery had hosted her show titled 'It's Good to be Queen' last year wherein she explored 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.

Elaborating on her work, the artist mentions that she tries to provoke the viewer to question our social values and to question what we do as human beings. The humor with an undertone of sarcasm in the work is meant to invite the viewer to play and interact with the ideas and meanings of 'self'.

By engaging with the work in which different versions of the artist pose and play, the viewers are compelled to subconsciously applying her caricatures to their own lives. The superimposing leads to a process of self-analysis of one's own identity. She employs humor to reveal the social, emotional, political, and all together fundamental aspects of identity.

The exhibition includes nine large 'self-portraits', each of which evokes a different personality that Mithu Sen has created for herself. She unitizes her trademark aesthetic in this work by including neo-surrealist themes as well as a variety of collage elements such as faux fur and brightly colored fabric, making these works both thought provoking and beautiful.

The exhibition also includes a larger than life installation of intestinal tracks, which lurk subtly in a darkened corridor of the gallery. The artist has always been fascinated by the human body and sexuality, as indicated by the long phallic tendrils of this looming soft sculpture as well as several of the large works on paper that illustrate a variety of innards and entrails.

view all articles