In her art-making, the format of the book has played a central role for Vidha Saumya. The powerful drawings in 'Purdah' (2007), which she made while studying for a Diploma in Visual Communications Design at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, began with a curiosity about the religious and social ramifications of Islam. While at Srishti, Saumya was awarded a scholarship by the South Asia Foundation for an Independent Study Programme at Lahore's Beaconhouse National University, in 2007. In Lahore, she documented ephemeral encounters with Lahori rickshaw-wallahs in a book of illustrations titled 'Guftagoon: Gutargoon' (2008), which prompted her to repeat the adventure with their counterparts in Bombay. The following year, she developed a book of drawings titled 'Explosives' (2009), which enacted an overheated sexual fantasy; but its shock value was blunted through a repeated assault on our senses.
Around this time, Saumya began experimenting with larger drawings on Chinese rice paper. These displayed a certain anxiety, that comes from feeling the need to expose the bodied self, but not being able to go all the way. With her fine embroiderer's or calligrapher's eye for detail, Saumya captured large-bodied performing women, who posed in lingerie, very coy and unsure, awkward even. They were facing young fashionable lads. Gradually, the men were substituted by gestures made by the women themselves. The women transformed into floating bodies submerged in an exaggeration of emotion and gesture. Saumya's works occasion a strangely ambivalent erotics. While the elaborate masquerade performed by these wild women protagonists is flagrantly on display, their bodies, touching, leaning, falling over each other, erase the boundaries between self and other, between bodied self and self-in-transit.
Born 1984 in Patna, India
Master's in Visual Culture and Contemporary Art, Aalto University, Helsinki.
BFA (Painting), Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai.
Diploma in Visual Communication Design, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.
Independent Study Programme, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore.
Lives and works in Mumbai
2020 'Monumentless Moments: the Utopia of Figureless Plinths', MAA-tila Project Space, Helsinki
2016 'No one at the ceremony remembers to mention the artist', Third Space, Helsinki
2011 'Love Charades', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2010 'Song of the Sirens', Grey Noise, Lahore
2008 'Lahori Bachchey', Alliance Francoise, Lahore
2019 'Slow Rush', curated by inaway: Ramina Habobollah, Nayab Ikram for FemfArt, Titanik-Galleria, Turku, Finland
2019 '80 Days', curated by Jani Leinonen, Artsi (Vantaa Art Museum), Vantaa, Finland
2019 'In the Land of Downside Up', curated by Nancy Adajania, Birla Art Academy, Kolkata
2018 'Caressing History', curated by Adwait Singh, Shrine Empire Gallery, New Delhi
2018 'Experimental Event VI: La torre de Babel', Valimo Hall of Palmgren Conservatory, Finland
2018 'River in an Ocean', curated by Abdullah Qureshi and Natasha Malik, Lahore
2017 'DWELLING', 10th Anniversary Show, curated by Ranjit Hoskote,Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2017 'I AM OUR COMMON PRONOUN', curated by Helga Christoffersen, Chart Art Fair, Copenhagen, Denmark
2017 'IS/NOT: Sculpture for the Post-Truth Era', Aalto University Learning Centre, Helsinki
2016 'Missa runous pessii? | Where does poetry nest?' curated by Giovanna Esposito, Galleria Emil in Tampere
2015 'BODY as SITE', two person show with Buddhadev Mukherjee, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke
2014 'Touched by Bhupen', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2014 'Call a book a book', HIVE, Mumbai
2012 Mumbai Gallery Weekend, Taj Lands End, Mumbai
2012 India Art Fair, New Delhi. Presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke
2011 5th Anniversary Exhibition, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2010 'The Leaf Song', Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Northamptonshire, UK
2009 'Long Gone and Living Now', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
2009 'Oh My God! I Can Buy Art', curated by Mehreen Murtaza and Umer Butt, Grey Noise, Lahore
2008 'Polyptych', Alhamra Art Gallery, Lahore
2010 Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Northamptonshire, UK
2020 'Monumentless Moments: the Utopia of Figureless Plinths', seven poetry books and a reader
2019 'November Salads', one poem book
2019 'September in Helsinki', one poem book
2019 'Naap', book of drawings, self-published
2018 'GUNPOWDER', book of drawings, self-published
2018 'Purdah', book of drawings, self-published
2014 'Bhoora', published by STUDIOVAAK
2009 'EXPLOSIVES', self-published
2008 'Guftagu: gutarrrgoon', self-published