Art World Being More Gender Neutral And Accepting Is A Myth: Illustrator Opashona Ghosh
- IWB Post
- December 6, 2018
We are already riding the fourth wave of feminism and agency is the formula to get it all right – be it the agency to exercise one’s sexuality or the agency to express oneself through art.
However, truth be told, when it comes to women’s agency and their stake in sexual pleasure or expression, it is the last thing that we want to discuss or even pay any heed to as a country. It’s invisible, insignificant, and also inconvenient.
Constantly striving to be a wholesome voice in contemporary feminism, IWB has thus come up with our latest campaign “Cuntry” to stand up for sexual choices of women for pleasure and not just for procreating. Presented by Kamasutra, the campaign takes you across the country as we navigate the sexuality of women, how it has been repressed all this while, and seek ways of freeing it.
As an extension of the same campaign, we have come up with our latest Instagram live workshop Arterotica-Untamed Strokes, scheduled for Monday, December 10, 2018, at 6 pm IST. The workshop aims to create a space for women artists to share and address issues on gender, sexuality, and positive body image through art and open dialogue.
Erotic art illustrator Opashona Ghosh has joined hands with us for the campaign. She would power you through this most incredibly liberating workshop on Instagram where she will have an interactive dialogue about body image, sexual desires, and also the intricacies of erotic art.
87 Likes, 2 Comments – Opashona Ghosh (@opashona) on Instagram: “. . . . . #eroticart #illustration #pocartist”
Art has always been employed as a means to reflect the spirit of the age and erotic art only seems like the right progression in current times as it contributes in building a strong discourse on sex, sexuality, and desire. However, as we talk of agency, it becomes integral to turn towards a feminine gaze in representing the female body.
Like artist Opashona Ghosh says, “Historically speaking, most erotic art has been made by and for the pleasure of men. The only way that can change is having more women (and folks identifying as women) making them.”
Here are extracts from a recent chat that we had with Opashona:
How have the dynamics of gender changed in the erotic art illustration world in the last few years when we talk about the representative artists? How has it affected the quality of art as a whole?
There has been a big shift in the last 10 years. In this regard, while I have my problems with social media, I have to admit that it has allowed folks of all genders using various disciples to find their voices. Now perhaps we have more women and women-identifying folks experimenting with the form in unique ways – whether it’s erotica in video art, writing, illustration, etc. Resultingly, the gaze has turned, but this is only the beginning.
Even though the art world is far more gender neutral and accepting, what roadblocks, in terms of repressive attitudes, have you faced in your journey?
Art world being more gender neutral and accepting is a myth. Working and living between London, Berlin, and Kolkata, I am often confronted with racism, homophobia, and sexism. You have to go in knowing it’s not going to be easy, put all your faith in your dedication, slowly build your own community/systems of support and work very hard.
What about labels? Have you been called slanderous words or names for being an erotic art illustrator?
Talking of slanderous names for doing what I do, a boring ‘slut’ has been thrown at me or behind me a few times. I am looking forward to more innovative and original names though.. they can be great inspiration sometimes!
71 Likes, 1 Comments – Opashona Ghosh (@opashona) on Instagram: “. . . . . #pocartist #eroticart”
What, according to you, is the most pressing need of the hour in the erotic art illustration world and how do you address it through your art?
Queering the gaze, diversifying the palette, losing the trends and keeping it authentic to your experience. The personal is political and every story matters. Art is on the journey of aligning the two. And of course, we need more women making erotic art!
Do your own personal experiences and fantasies inspire your work? Can you share some examples of how you are able to bring these together in your art?
Of course! I often use elements of fantasy in my work to compensate for lacks, challenges, to expand awareness/knowledge, explore hidden desires and to ask questions. It works as an imaginary bridge between the unknown and the desire to know in an attempt to reclaim my body, sexuality, and history.
It’s not that straightforward though – a series could take me anything between six months to a year. It involves extensive research, many “practice” rejects and patience until it “feels right” to share.
117 Likes, 1 Comments – Opashona Ghosh (@opashona) on Instagram: “. . . . . #eroticart #illustration #pocartist”
Can you discuss the importance of consent in the erotic art world?
This is a very important and long conversation that deserves its own time. Historically speaking, most erotic art has been made by and for the pleasure of men. The only way that can change is having more women (and folks identifying as women) making them. There are some inspiring examples in contemporary times which I will discuss through the course of the workshop.
How different are the sensibilities across nations? Have you felt the need to censor your work and how does that affect the creativity in you?
We can’t compare notes on this across nations as they are all in different stages of sexual liberation. More to be discussed during the workshop.
In my exploration of the erotic, body is perhaps only the starting point. Contours, colours, symmetry and context play as important a role as the body and the “erotic” is in the critical tension between the various points of exploration. I try to be honest in my engagement with my personal understanding of the erotic (ever-evolving) and in the pursuit of beauty. Thus, I don’t feel the need to censor myself to fit others ideas or morals.
What myths regarding sexual desires would you like to bust about the LGBTQIA community in the erotic art world?
Queer is so much more than sexual preference. It’s about building a community responsibly, giving an equal platform to marginalized voices and taking risks.
127 Likes, 7 Comments – Opashona Ghosh (@opashona) on Instagram: “. . . . . . #eroticart #poc #nude”
Can you share with us what preconditioning of shame did you have to let go when making erotic art illustrations and in what way was it liberating?
There are all sorts of shame women have to confront daily – some inherited, some from your environment, some through events involving violation of your consent… the list could go on. Recognising the sources and allowing critical conversations about it without the fear of judgment is a start. That’s where I am right now personally and with my work.
What’s your personal narrative for embarking on this journey as an erotic art illustrator?
I suppose my engagement with the body has gotten me the reputation of an erotic artist, but I don’t want to define myself as one. As for being an artist, it was an accident. The timing couldn’t have been any better as I was in crossroads post my graduation from Central Saint Martins in 2016 and had to decide how to take all my new skills, thoughts and ideas forward. Illustration started as a way to ground myself, journal my anxiety and confront sexual trauma. Erotic came in pretty early in my experimentation with the medium but has evolved heaps since then.
99 Likes, 1 Comments – Opashona Ghosh (@opashona) on Instagram: “#illustration #eroticart #pocartist”
We invite you to bring your love/lust stories to find power in the spoken word and set yourself free. We’d love to know how you rose above the burden of stigma that the society so liberally throws on our shoulders. We seek your stories to inspire, empower, and liberate those hesitant to make the first move towards claiming their agency in sexual pleasure.
But wait, we have something more to get you excited. Kamasutra is offering a 10% discount to everyone who uses our special campaign coupon code ‘CNTRYKS’. This discount is over and above current discounts /offers running on the KamaSutra range. (Approx. 15% discount is off