Four artists who are subverting patriarchy and creating their own brand of feminism.
With celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Halsey, Rihanna and others openly supporting the #FreeTheNipple movement, the word ‘feminism’ in the contemporary context, and the need for equal rights, has come up for discussions and debate on social media worldwide. Closer home, recent movies like Parched and Pink have also successfully highlighted and started a dialogue on the everyday struggles of Indian women, irrespective of the social milieu. Here we have four young female artists who, with a mixture of their unique brand of feminism and pop art, are striking a chord online.
This Pakistani-Canadian artist has become all the rage online with her showcase of Asian stereotypes, portrayed with a liberal dose of irony. Expect scary aunties and slogans like ‘I poisoned the pakodas’ on mugs, tote bags and tees. “My work is made to lighten the mood and start a conversation on this diaspora culture,” the 25-year-old says about her art. Qamar, who is based in Toronto, feels that a lot of East Asian diaspora can relate to her work. “(People) often comment on the similarities between our aunties and their elders, the pressure to become a stereotype and fighting cultural appropriation and erasure in the Western media.”
Inspiration: Daily life. I take inspiration from things I have witnessed or experienced first hand. It’s funny to find that I’m not alone in
Posters, tees, chai mugs and collectible plates. Rs 1,300 onwards (approximately). Details: hatecopy.com
Mumbai-based Paul has gained an enviable online following for her reimagining of goddesses from different cultures in a present day context. Her illustrations include a depiction of Kali wearing a crop top, with two fingers under her mouth, to the Japanese Sun Goddess, Amateras, dressed in an open, cleaveage-bearing kimono. The 17-year-old artist, who says that her art is aimed at showing the ugly issues ailing our society in an aesthetic fashion, is proud to call herself a feminist. “I think it’s really sad that a lot of women today, a lot of my peers too, do not like being associated with the term. It’s been so misunderstood, and I think that’s something that needs to change.”
Inspiration: My goddesses illustrations are inspired by the poem, Pantheon, by poet Harnidh Kaur. It talks about female sexuality and how it is a taboo in almost all the cultures.
Merchandise: Available on print-on-demand sites Postergully and Redbubble, which provide her designs on phone covers, notebooks, tote bags, coffee mugs, and more. Rs 125 onwards.
With her Queens Onscreen series, 21-year-old Gorle concerns herself with illustrating heroines from famous movies, along with defining dialogues spoken by their film’s characters. For example, we have Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) from Devil Wears Prada, Rani (Kangana Ranaut) from Queen, and Shashi (Sridevi) from English Vinglish. “I chose films as my medium because they are arguably the biggest cultural influencers in our lives,” says the Mumbai-based artist, who sees social media as a progressive platform that has enabled movements like feminism to reach the masses. For her feminism is common sense. “If we don’t have common sense enough to understand and operate within the paradigm that all humans have equal rights, then we’ve hardly progressed as a rational society.”
Inspiration: I saw a Netflix category labelled “featuring a strong female lead”, and I thought it was both exciting and kind of sad. The sad thing is that women still need a separate “category”.
Merchandise: Purchase her art on items like T-shirts, hoodies, postcards, coasters and notebooks, on Cupick.
Rs 210 onwards.
This Canada-based visual artist’s quirky prints, titled Tire Change Rani and My Kind of Wonder Woman, among other ‘badass’ pinups, can be seen as subverting the society’s expectations of women. “Art is my favorite way to promote feminist issues because it’s second nature to me,” says the 27-year-old. For Bhanot, painting was a hobby initially and then became a means for her to unwind and de-stress. “I consider my art feminist because it aims to highlight and pay homage to groups within our community that are often socially outcaste by the majority and patriarchy, which is so heavily embedded in our culture,” she says.
Inspiration: I’m inspired by my own experiences, the experiences of my friends, stories I’ve read online about women in India and abroad. I don’t limit myself to only one source of inspiration.
Merchandise: Her prints are available for purchase on etsy.com. Rs 3,500 onwards (approximately).
— Simar Bhasin & Kairvy Grewal