Inspired by the cultural context of her childhood, the figurative paintings of Karishma D’Souza (born 1983) draw on several influences including memory, poetry, politics and psychology.
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Early Life and Training
Karishma D’Souza was born in Mumbai in 1983. She graduated from Goa University in 2004 with a BFA in painting before completing an MVA in printmaking at the University of Baroda.
Inspired by the cultural context of her childhood, D’Souza creates narratives in her paintings that draw on Sufi poetry, creating flat surfaces of brightly coloured landscapes. Her work also draws on the production of Rajasthani miniatures, replicating the meticulous fine brushstrokes of the craftsmen on an expanded scale, lending her work a graphic quality. D’Souza often creates numerous scenes on a single canvas, offering multi-dimensional responses to memories and experiences.
Her tranquil landscapes are often unpopulated or depict a single person consumed within the landscape. D’Souza uses the figures she creates as witnesses of memories, both imagined and real. Introspective figures appear simultaneously surrounded and detached from their landscape, lending the works a sense of longing. D’Souza does not use shadows in her work, rather she explores the presence of light figuratively and metaphysically. As such, she examines universal questions of lived experience in relation to the divine and the exploration of basic truths.
D’Souza also uses light metaphorically to reveal the cultural and political contexts of a country undergoing rapid growth and change. In the early 2000s, a marketing campaign under the banner ‘India Shining’ expressed the sense of economic development and optimism in the country. D’Souza produced a number of works in response to this, in which she empties the canvas of colour, using a darker palette to critique the underlying effects of this phenomenon, which ignored the realities of economic development in a society structured by a strict caste system.
Rather than simply offering a critique, D’Souza aims to sublimate the contemporary political and social climate through transforming her landscapes into fantasised scenes in which the figure is given the opportunity to explore memory and experiences. Though she aims at creating tranquil scenes, D’Souza introduces tensions into her work through the contrasting of bright colours allowing for the viewer to question supposed realities.
Exhibitions, Awards and Collections
D’Souza’s work has been exhibited internationally throughout Europe and Asia and she has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout her career. Her work is held in several collections including the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.