Dual Identities

Contemporary artist Jayasri Burman's painting Annapurna ripples with her distinctive bright hues and signature hybrid animals, such as a woman's face attached to a swan's body. Her protagonists are female figures, some with food in their hands, indicative of their quintessential need for survival. Part of the exhibition "Feminine Divine" at Gallerie Ganesha, this is Burman's way of honouring women.

Over 13 artists, such as Rini Dhumal, Satish Gujral, Paresh Maity, Neekant Choudhary and Laxma Goud, interpret women-centric themes such as grace, power, endurance, beauty and strength. Burman says, "A woman is an 'Annapurna', someone who makes sure that no one goes hungry in her family. I have tried to create an enduring image of a woman as a nourisher, an image which will remain relevant however advanced our civil societies may become."

Talking about the show, Shobha Bhatia, Director, Gallerie Ganesha, says, "The declining respect for women in today's world inspired us to host this show. It reveals the 'devi' hidden in every woman. The paradox of being a woman in our country today is that, on one hand, she is worshipped as a goddess while on the other, she also gets killed in the womb because she is unwanted."

In Arpana Caur's painting Sohni, which is a part of her series Love Beyond Measure, a woman is seen drowning in a river with a pot beside her. It echoes the folktale of Sohni-Mahiwal, where Mahiwal, a trader, fell in love with Sohni, a potter. Unhappy in her marriage, she would cross a river with a pot to meet Mahiwal. But one day she is given an unbaked pot which causes her to drown. "This story is real. I have visited Akhnoor (near Jammu), where Sohni was born. To me, she is the perfect symbol of courage and love. There is a Sohni in all of us," says Caur. She believes in the energy every woman possesses to be both creator and destroyer. "Women are supposed to be passive but that is not the case; they can multi-task," she says.

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