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    Women centric and contemporary, Sonal Varshneyaa��s etchings aim to rival the art of painting

    It takes over 20 daysa��of etching, dipping (in acid), tinting, heating and repeatinga��to create a single printing plate. But artist Sonal Varshneya feels that the final artwork never gets its due, especially when pitted against paintings. a�?People believe it is not original because with one plate we can make at least eight prints. But our work is limited-edition and combines science and art to create something unique,a�? says the Lucknow-based printmaker, who is debuting in the city this month with a selection of etchings, titled The Heroinea��s Last Dream.
    While many artists work with monochromes and sepia, or go the labour-intensive route of preparing different plates to print different colours for a single artwork, Varshneya has spent the last eight years perfecting how to layer colours on a single sheet, achieving an opaque palette that produces complex, textured prints. a�?From a distance, youa��ll mistake my work to be paintings, and thata��s my goala��to make people see my concepts rather than just the technique,a�? says the 31-year-old.
    Of cats and power
    And her a�?conceptsa�� are not just pretty pictures with a dollop of quirk. Juxtaposing mythology, feminism, history and the contemporary, Varshneya calls them etched a�?selfiesa��a��a way to save her memories and observations. a�?All my subjects are women. In fact, they all reflect me. I channel what I can and cana��t do, what I see and believe in, into my work,a�? she says, adding, a�?I also draw a lot from our culture. Like my Photoshoot series, which has nine women, depicting the nine devis. But Ia��ve dressed them in modern clothes to show that they are free and powerful.a�? The big cats, like lions and tigers (a personal favourite and another symbol of power), crops up often in her visual landscape. a�?At the exhibition, you will see a mixa��from prints that use Lucknowi chikankari as a background, to surreal figures of people with catsa�� faces, which is inspired by my recent residency in Korea, where I was struck by their bold use of colours and the abundance of cats everywhere,a�? laughs the artist, who is currently working on a series based on Draupadi (a�?a powerful woman whose cheer haran is still repeated todaya�?), and hopes to be back in the city with it soon.
    Till July 30, at the Apparao Infinity, Nungambakkam. Details: 28332226
    a��Surya Praphulla Kumar


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