‘I dig, I look down’ by Mithu Sen

‘I dig, I look down’ is the first solo UK exhibition of the noted contemporary artist from India, Mithu Sen. She is presenting a body of new large-scale painted creations done on hand-made paper apart from a site-specific sculptural installation, a group of collaged photographs, a video work and a series of manipulated found objects displayed in vitrines.

Mithu Sen, already an influential and prominent figure on the contemporary Indian art scene, opts to work around her attention and affiliation to concerns of individual interiority and broad femininity with a touch of eroticism.

According to her, the latest show ‘I dig, I look down’ invokes the individual need to divulge deep rooted emotions, thoughts and ideas. This talented artist deftly draws sexuality from diverse objects - living as well as inanimate. She does so sensitively, displaying a smart sense of political acumen laced with witticism and sarcasm. These, in fact, are the unmatched facets of her deservingly lauded artistic career.

Mithu Sen studied at Visva Bharti, Kala Bhavan, in Santiniketan from where she received her BA and MFA in painting and later at the Glasgow School of Art. Among her noteworthy shows are, ‘Can We Really Look beyond the Map?’ (New Delhi, 2000); ‘Unbelongings’ (Glasgow, 2001), and ‘I Hate Pink’ (Mumbai, 2003), and a site specific installation completed as part of an artist residency, ‘It's Good to be Queen’ (Bose Pacia Artist Space, New York, 2006).

She has received many international awards like the UNESCO Ashburg Scholarship for Brazil (2005-2006), and the Charles Wallace India Trust Award in the UK (2000-2001). The artist from West Bengal who now lives and works in New Delhi displays an acute awareness of socio-political realities and makes scathing or subtle social commentaries in her work.

Her experiences and encounters while visiting different countries and meeting several people have provided some of the artistic inputs for one of her recent installation projects. She has tried to incorporate her personal experience into it. The artist has pursued the idea of self and the influence of society on the development of her own personality, to explore different permutations of identity which one can build and try on, depending on desire or necessity.

She explains, “A self cannot be isolated from its social realm. Each and every part of our life is mingled into it. Even if we try to escape it does not let us go, so we start bursting into different forms, expressions; nothing is apolitical!

According to her, the humor 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, the viewer is subconsciously applying my caricatures to their own lives.

The multi-faceted artist works in a diverse range of media including collage, larger sculptural projects, drawing and installation. When asked about the challenges of various media that she opts for, she states: “I never thought it like so, never took it in such different way. Why do term these works experimental? I just go through spontaneous....and yes, it attracts me.”

Summing up her thought processes, she says: "I try to provoke the viewer to question our social values: to question what we do as human beings. I use humor to reveal all the social, emotional, political, and all together fundamental aspects of identity."

For this sensitive artist, a new piece of art opens up new possibilities, new meanings, and a new realm; she becomes a part of it....nothing can be more interesting than that, she notes, something which is amply evident in ‘I dig, I look down’.

To view Mithu Sen's works in the Saffronart catalogueclick here

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