Sub-cover artist, Arts Illustrated
‘In our present situation, we are excessively dependent on the virtual world. We do not have time to listen to our inner selves; and that is creating mental and physical decay. We forgot to prioritise our intimate relationship – all those tiny balls of happiness and wishes that make our lives meaningful. Through my art, I showcase all those moments that we often do not notice or ignore. It could be momentary, but it is not meaningless. To me, those tiny moments hold all the significance of life’.
Sonali Laha studied painting and completed her MFA from the Department of Fine Arts, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, Hyderabad. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions across India, and in 2012, was awarded the All India Emerging Artist Award by the Odisha Lalit Kala Akademi.
Sonali’s paintings and large-scale installations primarily deal with the soul, the body and space. Exploring different mediums such as watercolours, charcoal cloth or even her own hair, she tries to depict those rare moments in life, ones that are static and silent in their expression but still underscore the emergence of the individual.
Why do you do art?
I am not so adequate at explaining myself. Art is where I can express my feelings better. Through art, I can speak of all those things that are often left behind or unsaid. I always try to manifest my feelings and experiences through my work. I feel that we are all born into this world with a purpose; and we have certain responsibility towards that. We need to understand that. As artists, we have a responsibility within our societies. We portray a nonverbal language through our works. We give a silent message.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Marc Chagall once said ‘Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things that revolve around love’. I believe the ultimate act of resistance is nowness and self-love. In that same way, I hope my work will surprise me and my viewers. As a practising artist, I wish to show my works in all major galleries and museums in India and all around the world, individually and with some of my favourite artists.
If you could meet your artistic hero/inspiration, who would that be?
My teacher and artist friend Rakhi Peswani. Her questions really helped me look deeper into art and life. Through art history and my art practice, I came across some great master and beautiful artists, like Chagall and Edvard Munch – also some contemporary master like Antony Gormley, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith… Given a chance, it would be great of meet and learn from them.
Who or what keeps you company while you work?
I love to work individually. I do not have any helping hands. While working I listen to some music, talks, documentaries… My works are relaxing, so the process keeps me moving. I also have great support system in my family, my friends, my partner, and my artist friends who keep encouraging me.
How would you want to be remembered?
We all are born with the individual capacities. We have the right to choose our individual paths and happiness. No one can decide for us – be it family or society. We are all free. I want to be remembered as an artist and a human being who believes in her individual rights. I feel it is now time to question and change our moves and motives. My works helps me to portray that idea.