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Engendering a new art form

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Abir Karmarkar strives to create a parallel world for himself in his paintings where he exists as a woman

GENDER EXPERIMENTS are in vogue for a host of visual artists. Their art, which is often referred to as a feminist statement, seeks to challenge the stereotypical binary construction of male and female and draws inspiration from many a source - be it mythology, history or even, the absurd.

Renowned artist Arpana Caur laments, "People usually slot me as a woman artist and think that the issues that I will explore will pertain to women. But a lot more has been featured on mv canvas." She refers to her series on the Buddha, Nanak and Kabir as cases in point. "Women are coming into their own and are playing masculine roles all the time," she adds. Her most recent work, The Green Circle, is an embodiment of just this idea.

Part of a larger series that addresses environmental and gender concerns simultaneously, this work shows Sita drawing a circle around herself. It is a significant departure from the mythological text of Ramayana, where it is Lak-shman who draws a line with his arrow to protect Sita. Caur has also used the image of Sita to personify the Earth, thereby representing the subjugation of both the woman and our planet at the hands of their supposed protector, man.

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