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Practicing Restraint Through Art

Sep/01/2022 / by Preetam Kaushik
Image courtesy of DAG World

A pioneer in the field of printmaking in India, Anupam Sud is known for her feminist leanings. Sud seeks to depict the common human predicament with introspective and fatalistic subjects through her works. Having secured a British Council scholarship, Sud studied printmaking at the Slade School in London.

Specializing in intaglio prints on zinc plates, Sud has experimented to come up with unique works of art. Her technique is a blend of intaglio processes with screen-printing and lithography. Having started as a printmaker, Sud took to painting seriously much later in life. In fact, it was only in 2008, following an accident, that she actually embraced the art of painting.

Sud likes to keep her prints and paintings separate as she believes that the textures that she visualizes are exclusive to one or the other. Be it prints or paintings, Sud is known for her use of nude forms in her works. In one of her interviews, she attributes this to her dislike for decorations of all kinds. “The decorative element is absent in my work. It is the stark truth. I also don’t do decorations as it takes away the strength of the character. I enjoy painting taut human bodies,” she says.

Sud has a signature style of using minimal colors to convey her thoughts that dominated her early works when printmaking was her primary focus. She previously said, “I etch the male and female bodies in their stark nakedness – minus all gloss. I often darken the entire field and then reclaim the whites in a painstaking way.” Her later works feature more colors and accommodate multiple narratives.

Changing With the Times

The changes in Sud’s style have been drastic, as she admits herself. Architectural forms and human figures entrapped in a twilight world were the dominant theme in the 1970s. This phase preceded her representations of the feminist point of view. Her later works were about ambition, power struggle, temptation, and human fallibility to mention a few.

Not one to be boxed-in by labels, Sud’s work falls into the category of the abstract. When she works, she starts off with dots and lines, giving her art shape with the specific mental state or psychology that has impacted her. Reinforcing this, Sud has been quoted in an interview saying, “My artworks are shaped by the psyche, while the tone and colors bring it all together.”

Life and Inspiration

Born in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, in 1944, she studied at the College of Art in New Delhi before heading to London. Among the influences in her life, Sud counts her parents, teacher and mentor Jagmohan Chopra, and artist Somnath Hore. One of the founder members of Group 8, she has strived to sustain and promote printmaking as an independent art form.

Sud has mentioned in one of her interactions with the media she also derives inspiration from mythical, religious, and historical references mingled with current realizations and concerns. To illustrate her point, she cites the example of her ‘Game Series’ where the men and women are depicted in manipulative moods, albeit in different contexts. Hunting scenes from historical and mythological tomes make for the perfect backdrop here.

“The Soul (Un)Gendered: Anupam Sud, A Retrospective,” and “Germination, Rare Graphics of Anupam Sud from 60’s to 90’s” are some recent showings of Sud’s works.

A globally recognized artist, Sud’s works feature at the Peabody Museum in the United States, the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, the Glenbarra Art Museum in Japan, and The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. From solo shows held around the world to conducting workshops in Canada and Japan, Sud has been busy pursuing her passion over the decades.

Anupam Sud’s work is currently on display at DAG, New York. All images courtesy of DAG

To learn more about artists spotlighted by DAG, check out Madhvi Parekh: Rich Palettes, Rustic Tones


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