Renowned artist Santosh Jain’s journey began with printmaking in the 70s. Now herself in her 70s, her evolution as an artist has led her to creating art using contemporary mediums of photography and digital tools. Her digital landscapes, made using a fascinating amalgamation of mediums, are unique in both their intention and creation. Below, she acquaints us further with her journey and artistry.
Photography always fascinated me. When I saw photographs in books or exhibitions, I would often think how I would have connected to the subject had I been there… Without a camera, whatever resonated with me was being constantly imprinted in my brain’s memory card.
After many chapters in my life, I finally picked up the camera in my 60s. In 2012, my daughter gifted me a DSLR camera, I joined a photography group and started going out with them every weekend to click pictures. Through trial and error, I learnt photography. I even learnt Photoshop and other softwares on my own by reading and researching online. I soon discovered that my photographs are elements and characters for me to tell stories. The curiosity and the desire to explore pushes me to take up new challenges. I began mixing mediums and building on my photographs to express myself.
My art journey began as a printmaker, but operating a traditional printmaking machine with nitric acid and other chemicals becomes complicated with age. Another beautiful outcome of this exploration is that I can create a play of thick and thin lines and other effects as seen in aquatints, mezzotints, et cetera, with my original photography and art tools. Now I’m thrilled as I create endless possibilities with the same freedom of expression and sensitivity that I’d so enjoyed earlier!
Nature has always inspired me, as have stories of human struggle. I absorb a lot when I’m interacting with people. There is inspiration and power in our deepest fears and struggles. Art, for me, is a second language. Through my work, I hope to express my inner concerns and open up a conversation for viewers to interpret this visual language and make it a part of their journey, layered with personal stories.
I feel a deep sense of empathy and sympathy towards women. My work explores narratives around women, where I see them as emotional beings, silent sufferers, pillars of strength and also game players. For me, the divine holds great significance. I have often experienced its redeeming power. This too, I try to express through my works. I also feel empathy towards the oppressed, the outcasts, the forgotten who need a voice. Sometimes my art takes a very personal narrative and my attempt is to create stories that have been mostly untold.
The Creative Process
One of my latest works (shown below) looks at the violation of women in society. To create a comparison between interpretations done in the past with the contemporary times, I’ve laced my photographs with a classical depiction of a sensual woman. Another hidden symbol is the old eMac. It was one of the earlier desktop computers from Apple. With time, new versions with smarter hard drives and sleeker models became available. But it is still a computer. I’m questioning whether things have changed for women? Forced prostitution, marital abuse, and rape continue. Maybe the modus operandi is different now. But the pain and suffering are the same.
Art and Pandemic
The pandemic has adversely impacted everyone, everywhere. People were locked inside their homes; there was so much anguish and fear. Each one of us had something to say and share. Many artists have been able to express these shared feelings through their works. When people visit art galleries, maybe they connect to these feelings and feel they weren’t alone. Art can provide a point of context, give hope, help in admitting deep buried emotions, and start a conversation. I think art will help us heal.
I’m currently working on a body of mixed-media works as well as digital landscapes. These works are a window to my subconscious, and through these, I’m expressing many deep-rooted thoughts. Also, in my latest Languish Series, I’ve explored the concept of ‘shadow’.