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Artist In Focus : Mithu Sen

Mithu Sen

In this section, we pick one artist to showcase their work and creative journey so far. Today, we look at contemporary artist Mithu Sen.

Mithu Sen – The Artist

The artist who makes the canvas sing with her work and her unique storytelling. Mithu Sen’s choice of topics are as varied as they can be. The ideas range from human rights, exploring the erotic to everyday objects. It is the dialogue between all these elements gives that her work multiple layers.

Mithu-Sen-Nature-Morte-Perhaps-You-II

Image Source – www.naturemorte.com

Furthermore, the arrangement of her subjects in her paintings as well as her installations creates drama at every level.  By exploring the subconscious, Sen shows her viewers that fantasy is indeed a strong part of our reality. Fantasies that are hidden provoke the mind even more. Bringing them out in the open, is Sen’s objective.

Mithu Sen’s Craft

Mithu believes in being unbound and unattached when it comes to creativity. An idea contained can never reach full potential. There is method to the madness.  Her technique is as impeccable as is her arrangement of thought. She creates a context for her story telling with a great deal of care. The unusual marriage of ideas are something that cannot be shelved. The ultimate free thinker she allows the free flow of ideas that meander through her work. She believes in creating a legacy that will remain for future generations to partake of, in terms of creativity.

Sen’s practice stems from a strong drawing background that has extended into video, sculpture, installations, and sound works. This then, further draws the viewer into her psyche.  Engaging with the viewer and engulfing them in a ‘Mithu experience’ is important to the artist. She attempts to extend connections outside of the art world.

 By exploring the hidden mind, Sen shows viewers that fantasy is indeed a strong part of our reality. It always has been, and always will remain so.

 ‘I constantly change my mediums so the market will not be able to trap me’ says Sen

Her Journey

Born in Kolkata, in 1971, Mithu obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in painting from Kala Bhavan at Santiniketan. Later, she completed a postgraduate program at the Glasgow School of Art in the United Kingdom. Mithu had won the prestigious Charles Wallace India Trust Award for 2000-2001.

Sen is easily one of the most internationally recognised and widely respected artists of the Indian subcontinent. Her career extends over the past two decades. Sen makes drawings, sculptures, performance work, as well as films.

‘Phantom Pain’ – The Artwork

Mithu Sen’s Phantom Pain is as visceral as it can be. The teeth, spinal column, blood and hair are the reality of this body and yet one shrinks from their portrayal. The talent of Mithu Sen lies in the fact that each and every one who visits the Phantom Pain installation  will be cringing at some point of time. For the simple reason that she gets through to the gut and evokes an emotion, and a memory. There are no value judgements from her, she does not see representation of her subjects as a display of profanity. She isn’t aiming for discomfort, but for inclusiveness, for an idea.

She herself is difficult to categorise, nor does she maintain as a singular narrative. This, she says, is intentional – it is her effort to defy the demands of the market.


To learn more about your favourite artist and their creative journey, visit Artist in Focus

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