Featured Artist: Soma Pradhan
A naturalized Singaporean, Soma Pradhan comes from a family of agitators and legislators with roots in coastal Bengal. She took a Masters in Botany and initial classes in painting beside the Ganges in places trodden by the likes of Mark Twain and George Mallory. After a decade of work in Delhi in textiles and fashion with a postgraduation from NIFT, she moved to Singapore. There, she learned object design, watercolours and Chinese ink painting at NAFA, bastion of the late, great Georgette Chen. For some time now, Soma has focused on bringing fine art to things of everyday use. She continues to work across paper, silk and silver. Her paintings are available online at the Saatchi Gallery and she has exhibited at NAFA. Soma is an associate member of the American Watercolor Society.
She continues to challenge conventional boundaries and in 2018-19, took her series of watercolours on silk dresses to trade shows in Dubai, Melbourne, Vilnius, Copenhagen, London and Anaheim. Soma believes that the innovation in art which began with Impressionism at the peak of the Industrial Age, must continue in the digital, instant social age to keep it relevant. She believes this is possible through bold experimentation in material, interpretation of movement and the use of light.
For me, painting is about creating stories that represent the complex dynamism of urban life today. I prefer to use watercolour because it is both challenging to master and yet allows one to cross barriers of meaning very quickly.
I like to capture the constant shifts in the built environment and social geography of cities. This includes buildings, people, parks, gardens and commuter lines. I want the viewer to ask questions and participate in the creative process, which really never stops. When someone looks at a painting, he or she should be able to ask- who are these people, what are they doing, what is happening on this street and around that corner? No one is ever settled in a city and beyond and before a specific second, something is about to occur or has occurred. There are, too, hidden secrets within dense cities-exotic flowers, architectural surprises, highly creative activities. I began with Impressionism and the use of light remains important for me. But I also draw upon the storytelling of our era- fashion illustration, New Wave cinema, Korean film and DC comics. Inspiration has come to me from other traditions too-for example, the early work of Fleetwood Mac and the street art of Banksy.
My work in textiles and objects side by side with paintings taught me the immense possibilities of crossing over from one medium to another. This is especially relevant, I feel, in this age of digital creation and transmission. I hope to be able to continue innovating and interrogating the contemporary city in its various facets.