Sugar and Milk

Sugar and Milk
digital collage
25½ x 41½ (64.8 x 105.4 cm)
Executed in 2008; number five from an edition of five
S. T. Lipton, 'Visions and Voices of Artists from India,' Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, 19 June 2008, p. H23 - H24 (illustrated)
New Rochelle, Castle Gallery, Tales of Wonder and Woe: Fairy Tales and Contemporary Art, December 2008 - February 2009
Mumbai, Thomas Erben and Chatterjee and Lal, The Ocean Beneath (Solo Exhibition), August 2008
Culver City, d.e.n Contemporary art, Contradictions and Complexities: Contemporary Art from India, June - August 2008



Chitra Ganesh utilizes collage, assemblage and digital media to make provocative paintings and prints. She appropriates imagery from the campy 1970s Amar Chitra Katha comic series (originally intended to impart historical and religious texts in an easily digestible form for children) and subverts popular tales from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and other famous Hindu epics by inserting sexualized politico-feminist iconography into these scenes.

When I was looking at the original comic strips, again I noticed that representations of sexuality were couched in lots of contradictions ... Purity, for example, is centered on specific female characters in various narratives like with Mirabai and Sita. And whether they were iconic figures or not, all were dressed in a very 'I dream of Genie' fashion which channeled and aligned itself with exotic South Asian dancer types. Thinking about South Asian-ness and the contradictions of racial purity within the nation, the kingdom, caste and religion, it was equally interesting to me the way the characters were so white. And the whiteness is not just in skin color. There is also a focus on certain features that seemed very specific. And since their breasts were practically hanging out anyhow, I wanted to see what it would be like if it actually looked like what it was implying and playing with that. Also, although never consciously, I am also trying to place figures within a sexually explicit frame while not conforming with what is seen as sexually explicit or pornographic, etc.
Chitra Ganesh (Artist Statement, Interview by Natasha Bissonauth, 'Storytelling,' Art & Deal, New Delhi, 2008, Volume 5, No. 4, Issue 26, p. 100)