You can’t miss the prosaic in Sosa Joseph’s paintings. Like Bhupen Khakhar’s mofussil mise-en-scènes, the 42-year-old artist vivifies her immediate surroundings. “My studio is near a bazaar," she explains, when we meet the day her new solo opens in Mumbai. She has been living and practising in Kochi, Kerala, after completing her postgraduation in painting from the MS University of Baroda.
Joseph paints cattle, hens, women, dwarves, tea vendors, boats, coils of wire, animals sculpted in cheap-looking moulds, meen (fish) in thick-rimmed bowls, fragments of broken domesticity like parts of a transistor—some of these coalescing meaningfully in her canvases.
What Are We? I, II and III, the three largest pieces in the new show Unspecified at Mumbai’s Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, are hyper-referential, busy and seemingly absurd. Their protagonists are women, standing out partly in black veils, with exaggerated features and a melancholic survey of inanimate objects around them. There are men in tattered clothes and flip-flops, children playing and in the middle of somersaults. In the most ambiguous of this triptych, a row of women, old, young and small, look intently at a bunch of broken domestic emblems—as if in queue to acquire things already destroyed. Most of the works on display at this show are covert ruses against patriarchy.