Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke
SOSA JOSEPH, Grasshopper, 2018, oil on canvas,122 x 91.5 cm / 48 x 36 in

Sosa Joseph's sense of the absurd is rather elliptical and is often occasioned by the ways in which the ordinary and the bizarre, the humdrum and the incongruous continually rub shoulders in the "spectacle" of life that is the Indian street. In striving to represent the life that unfolds around her, Joseph is present, first and foremost, to the language which she has deemed best for this task, that is to say, to the reality of picture making. The eclecticism of her stylistic references makes for a certain plastic mutability in terms of the handling. The paint describes shapes and then slips into shapelessness, and this pictorial evasiveness the mutational aspect of the relation between figure and ground, the absence of perspective, the muffled palette, the curious aquarelle-like insubstantiality of the surface and the livid highlights is what contributes to the open-endedness of the signifying field. Joseph's seeming "faux naif" style, however, is really a foil for a form of representational shorthand for treating each element in the painting as if it were potentially a micro-vignette in a larger scheme, a tiny incident whose apparent inconsequence is paradoxically what makes it momentarily and locally momentous. Joseph's pictures are aggregations of such offhand moments and details depicted in a somewhat summary and succinct way, physiognomic traits reduced to a caricatural tic or quirk registered by a pictorial handling that is appropriately notational in its compact expressivity. The deadpan summation of these micro-episodes accentuates the slightly edgy, almost mordant wit underlying her vision of the sheer randomness of the quotidian drift, the purposiveness without purpose of the figures that people these paintings.

The psychic seclusion or solitariness of women has been variously treated by Amrita Sher-Gil, Arpita Singh, Nilima Sheikh and Nalini Malani, to name only the Indian painters all women, unsurprisingly ? who are Joseph's precursors in this vein. Their gazes are withdrawn, their faces a smudge, made all the more mask-like by the summary brushwork, as if the very nature of the handling were an index of their effaced lives. The figures are not individualized in psychological terms any more than are the interiors in which they appear to be marooned. The succinct delineation of a visage, the deftly rendered trait, the formal simplification or distortion may have a comic edge but can also shade into something more melancholic; the pictorial language registers these mixed moods and is the more complex for it.

- Deepak Ananth

Born 1971 in Kerala, India 
Diploma in Painting, Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts, Mavelikara, Kerala, India 
Post-Graduate Diploma in Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda, India 
Lives and works in Kochi, Kerala

Solo Exhibitions

2017   India Art Fair, New Delhi. Presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke
2016   'What Are We?', Setouchi Trienniale, Shodoshima Island, Japan
2014   'Unspecified', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2009   'The Common', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2005  'Tenacity of the Moon', Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi, India

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019   India Art Fair, New Delhi. Presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke
2018   'Nine Painters from Kerala', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai 
2018   '21st Biennale of Sydney, SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium & Engagement', curated by Mami Kataoka, Sydney
2017   'Memoires des Futurs | Modernites Indiennes', curated by Catherine David, Centre Pompidou, Paris
2017   'Mattancherry', curated by Riyas Komu, URU Art Harbour, Kochi
2016   'DWELLING:10th Anniversary Show (Part I)', curated by Ranjit Hoskote, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai 
2015   'Kamarado', curated by Zasha Coah, Sumesh Sharma, Jelle Bouwhuis and Kerstin Winking, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam and Clark House Initiative Bombay 
2015   'Double Take', curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Nature Morte, New Delhi 
2012   First edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, curated by Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu, Kochi
2011   '5th Anniversary Exhibition', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2007   'Panchatantra', Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi, India
2006   'Intimate Revelations', Schneider Museum of Art, Oregon, USA
2006   'Open-Eyed Dreams', Durbar Hall Art Center, Kochi, India 
2003   'Remembering Bhupen', Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi

Residencies

2016   Setouchi Triennale Residency (March 2016) for travel and exhibition in Shodoshima, Japan 
2015   Global Collaborations Program, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

 

EXHIBITIONS

Sosa Joseph

March 13, 2014 - May 15, 2014

Sosa Joseph The Common

October 06, 2009 - November 12, 2009