Vidha Saumya

Born: Bihar, India (1984)

Lives and works: Helsinki, Finland


GUNPOWDER (2013-2017)

Series of 28 drawings, Cello Gripper on paper

21 cm x 25 cm (each)


Drawing is Vidha Saumya’s primary medium. She selects humble materials to create a sense of vulnerability in her subject matter. She evokes elements, like sound, simply through her handling of a common ballpoint pen, controlling the thickness and strength of each line with deliberation and intention. Her works range in scale from intimate notebook compositions to large scale works on paper hung on the wall, and center mainly on the body and a range of subjectivities. She projects and weaves her own observations subtly into her imagined scenes.


Born in Bihar, India, raised in Delhi and Mumbai, India and currently based in Helsinki, Finland, Saumya reflects on these respective countries’ social orders, conflicts of class and castes, religious differences, and the role of women in society as a way to play with and challenge norms, taboos, and boundaries. For instance, in EXPLOSIVES (2009), a book of fifteen drawings, Saumya visualizes the questions and answers in a Mumbai-based sex therapist’s advice column. Women in bras and men with naked torsos and fancy underwear, all in various stages of undress, take center stage in surreal scenes full of fabric and interior design patterns. Together these elements arouse collective anxieties and reveal the clouds of ignorance which surround sexual subjects.


For this exhibition, Saumya presents twenty-eight new drawings titled GUNPOWDER (2013-17). The series, which has never been presented publicly, branches off the same format and subject matter as EXPLOSIVES: responses to what the artist characterizes as the “surfeit of libidinous images that flood the market and infiltrate people’s minds in the age of Globalization.” In GUNPOWDER, she shifts her gaze towards figures and backdrops based on observation: hours in hospitals, and travelling back and forth between India and Finland. She represents a wider range of genders in the present series, and uses humor to wring out the drawn, sexual fantasies.


Saumya’s drawings expand her idea of herself through identification with the desires and absurdities of others. Drawing what extends beyond the boundaries of normative society, she enters into a range of other possible selves, and lives them out in her work. Through this mode of identification, she expands ideas of what is or could be accepted.



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