The Aestheticized Interview with Piyali Ghosh (India)

By Kisito Assangni - Wednesday, August 28, 2019
The Aestheticized Interview with Piyali Ghosh (India)

"Art is inseparable from life. We are reproducing our feelings, experience and knowledge through the language of art. I think, Art is political when it communicates with audience, regardless of an artist’s intension each piece of art consciously or unconsciously records socio-political history of our time. It is a powerful tool to push the conventional boundaries of thought, it dares to deconstruct and reconstruct ideas asan independent political or social message".




Piyali Ghosh is a multi-disciplinary artist. Her artistic practice takes on many forms of expression, including Drawing, sculpture, Drawing performance, site-specific installation, video,  and Environmental art. She received her Master’s Degree in Fine Arts (painting) at the Faculty of Fine Arts at MS University, Baroda, India. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts (painting) from the Indian College of Art and Draftsmanship, RabindraBharati University in Kolkata, India. She has exhibited widely both in India and internationally and has completed artist residencies in London and Brisbane, Townsville, Shyriaevo (Russia), Ireland. She has participated in Miniscule Venice, Venice Biennale 2019, X Shyriaevo Biennale of Contemporary Arts,2018. She has had solo shows at Chatterjee and Lal gallery, Mumbai (2007), Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi (2009), Woolloongabba Art Gallery, Brisbane (2015 and 2017),Elements Gallery and Angus- Hughes gallery(London), Conway Linen Mill, Art Cetera Studio, Belfast, 2018.

Recently she has two person show at Latitude Twenty Eight gallery, New Delhi, 2018. She has participated in Drawing International Brisbane Symposium, Australia, 2015. She was part of the Cultural Olympiad project, sponsored by the London Arts Council and supported by the British Council called Stories of the World at Orleans House Gallery, London in 2010-2011,and undertook a residency in London, Britain. She had a linear mural (collateral event) included in the 2014 Kochi Muziris Biennale in Cochin, Kerala, India.

The Shape of Time, Miniscule Venice, Venice Biennale, 2019 / Photo by Michael Aird


She has participated in international Video art program ‘Time is Love’ 2016 and 2017, and her video art works were on tour Globally at different museum and art galleries. She has had many solo drawing performances and site-specific installations nationally and internationally . In 2017 she was invited to make a site-specific drawing installation and performance as part of the Ninth Strand Ephemera, organized by Perc Tucker Regional Gallery and Umbrella studio Contemporary Art, funded and Supported by Townsville City Council and Australia Council.

ArtDependence (AD): Do you have any thoughts on whether that’s a responsibility of artists, reflecting our time is important within the political context? 

Piyali Ghosh (PG): Art is inseparable from life. We are reproducing our feelings, experience and knowledge through the language of art. I think, Art is political when it communicates with audience,regardless of an artist’s intension each piece of art consciously or unconsciously records socio-political history of our time. It is a powerful tool to push the conventional boundaries of thought, it dares to deconstruct and reconstruct ideas asan independent political or social message. I believe, yes, it is important to reflect the current times through the political ambience.

AD: What is your main interest as artist? What form of self-consciousness is applicable to the art-making?

PG: My practice is an ongoing research process which explores emotions (Rasa) and mood (Bhava) of new forms and lines in environment and records the transformation of the form of object with time, through the multi disciplinary intense practice from drawing, sculpture, performance, video, installation to environmental art.

My interest is to connect ancient Rasa theory and my kinetic drawing line practice; how the natural elements and vibration of energy transfer into lines.This narration of Rasa Rehka practice provides a small account of the intricacy of expression my drawing captures. The limbic system and brain are complex neuro-structures capable of processing many emotional responses as Dr. Mark George explains, "It's because happiness and sadness involve separate brain areas that we can have bittersweet moments, like when a child is leaving home for college and you're sad, but happy, too." (George 1995, 344).In this way Rasa Rekhapractice is analogous to a biological process, as I am transferring and transmuting all the multitude of feelings experienced through my interaction with the environment and through the neural pathways of my brain, where they are ordered into emotions that I transfer into lines. To define Rasa Rehkaas a global arts practice I must make reference to the history of art and Expressionism.

For me, drawing is a spontaneous process of sensing, or receiving energy from the environment through all our senses and transfer them into drawing lines. In this way drawing becomes an extension of the order of the natural world, where a sense of the ego as self connects to the larger macrocosm of ecology and the bio-network. Each stroke records a memory of time and the passing of mortal life. Within this creative process, mark-making and gesticulation is a sign of all the force, longing and emotions of the self as artist. The drawn line becomes a bridge between material and immaterial realities, allowing myself as artist to portray nature and subjective experience. I am transferring and transmuting the multitude of feelings I experience through my interaction with the environment.

AD: Do you feel that it’s important to convey your own beliefs and opinions within your art? Is there a philosophical element in your work?

PG: Art is a power house of energy, emotions and sensitivity and intellects. Art work acts like a mirror, a reflection of an artist’s existence, opinion and beliefs!

I have developed  a methodology which combines drawing with Indian Rasa Theory. The Rasasare an ancient and formal system of Indian aesthetics. Rasa theory, founded by the sage Bharata.The integration of ancient Rasatheory with drawing is called Rasa Rekha. In the practice of Rasa Rekha, the embodiment of various rasas and emotional states through an artist’s placement in nature is transformed into kinetic line through the physical act of performance of drawing. The methodology Rasa Rekhais presented as a conceptual application of drawing that bridges the spaces between material and immaterial representation, in which the process of mark-making becomes an act of reclamation. The process of mark-making represents existence the reclamation of selfhood, as an act of engagement with the experience of self and of belonging in accordance with nature.


International Shyriaevo Biennale, Russia, 2019 / Photo by Peter Gridin


Specifically, as a location of transfer between nature, the self and material and immaterial representation, the practice of Rasa Rekhais both a record and interface where line represents existence. Drawing is an instinctive expression leaving restless impatient marks in my work. Each strokes records a memory of time and the passing of mortal life.Within this methodology mark-making and gesticulation is a sign of all the force, longing and emotions of the self as artist. In the process of Rasa Rekha emotions are signifiers demonstrated through the flow and rendering of kinetic lines that create new forms and signs.

AD: What are you currently working on? Is there anything in particular that you’d like to get across through your work?

PG: Recently I just undertook a project in Venice titled ‘The Shape of Time’, a performative drawing installation (ink drawing on 25 mitre mixed silk fabric) in situ, and exhibited a miniature version (46 x 31.5 x 14 mm) of a similar work in the Miniscule Venice exhibtion, Venice Biennale, 2019.

I am working on a coming solo exhibition ‘Naksha, An untold odyssey’ at the Museum of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I imagine all manner of unusual form, scale and juxtapositions, that occupy the void space in the gallery. The visual syntax is being created through the signification of lines that deconstruct the limitations of two-dimensional surfaces, playing with dimension, volume and scale.

AD: What place does creativity have in education? Do you view yourself as a creator?

PG: Creativity and education are inter related, when creativity reflects someone’s special ability of thought, new ideas, emotion, sensitivity and intellect. Education talks about information, knowledge and discipline. I think balance of these two sector of intelligence creates a successful work. I think in a broad sense, all the living beings are creator, whether it is natural creation or intellectual creation, the process of creation is unstoppable! Just the different process in different ways.

AD: Do you think that by challenging conventional views, art can truly make a change in the public’s perception?

PG: The present is always rooted in the past and it is the continuation of past journeys. Art always aims to look for unknown, untold, un-viewed. Every creative brain and mind experiences new knowledge through their senses and is reflected in their art work. Art is the sharp communicative tool to share new ideas of present time. I trust, art demands to look through radical perspectives of layers of reality and search for new possibilities, that has deep impact on viewers, audience or public.

AD: How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?

PG: The history of drawing in India is political, it encompasses the heterotrophic, the observed, the reconstructed, the deconstructed and all the complexity and layers of meaning attributed to any mark made as a language. However, more recently, contemporary Indian drawing has shifted significantly. As a female contemporary artist who grew up in Kolkata, India, the influence of the Bengal and other schools, with their reclamation of Indian culture and expression of subjective realities, has impacted my own drawing practice at the very preliminary stage. At the very beginning all my large humorous satirical narrative paintings played like a role of a commentator on contemporary social, political and economic situation.

During those very early days all the large stylised figurative paintings Imade with thick bold brushing with very intricate fine line drawings. Each woven fine thread of the costumes, hair on body,  air, water, everything  I used to paint with fine lines. Since the beginning I was very much interested about the lines. Sometimes I feel like I am lost in between those lines. So, gradually I started looking through, or zoom in into my own painting and I saw the unknown abstract linear space existing in those narrative paintings. That attracted me, and gradually that took me to look for existing lines in nature.   

AD: Is sophistication, aesthetic accomplishment in the eye of the beholder?

PG: This is really an interesting area, I believe, an art work goes through a never ending process and it never get finished or completed. The process starts from the moment the idea takes birth in artist’s mind then it gets visual form through a physical process, then the visual communicates with the viewers and provokes them to rethink. I would like to call it as a fertile process of aesthetical thoughts and ideas what can take the beholder at the point of catharsis! That is the beauty of art!



 Arabian Sea – My Rasa Rekha, 2015 / Photo by Lijo Lonappan


AD: What do you think is the social role of art? How would you like to be remembered?

PG: I believe art is the most beneficial and influential visual language. It can deeply stimulate people’s minds and can turn them towards the betterment of the society. I would like to be remembered as of a certain Time!

AD: How does art school form ideas about art? Does it shape people into being certain types of artists?

PG: Art school plays a major role in a student’s life. It acts like an armature of a sculpture!  I remember in my bachelor first year during object study classes, my professor, the late Asim Paul kept throwing my drawing paper on the floor saying that I am ‘good for nothing’! When I completed my Bachelor degree in painting, I asked him, what was the reason behind the rude behaviour with a student? He patted me on my shoulder and very fondly replied, ‘I did not want you to be self-satisfied, I was trying to challenge you, I wanted you to go in deep with the lines, perspectives, dimensions and volumes of the objects’. I am really grateful to my professor, who encouraged me to do hard labour. He taught  me there is no shortcut way!

Yes, Good teachers always encourage, energize students sharing information and knowledge. Art Institute teaches theoretical knowledge and practical technique, skill, craftsmanship but nothing can make someone creative except by his/her own willpower and creative mind. I believe, mother-nature is the actual source of all creativity and knowledge! I think, no institution can shape people to be a certain type of artists. This is absolutely an artist’s interest or choice whether they will follow a certain school or they will make their own new way! Making own way is full of struggle but full of life, energy and confidence!

AD: What do you think about the art world and art market? Do you accept that art is inherently an elitist activity?

PG: I think the art world and art market, are totally different worlds with different intellectual and materialistic values. Yes, art is the elitist activity, but nothing can stop an art lover who can’t afford to buy an art work to receive positive energy from creativity!

AD: What’s the last great book you read? Any other thoughts/projects to share?

PG: At present i am reading two books ‘Soundscape Ecology’ by Almo Farina and  Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘Sculpting in time’.

I have commenced in 2015 a major ongoing project ‘ Seven Oceans’, thataims to complete seven site specific performative durational drawing installations with video documentation on the seven oceans. I have been able to work on Indian Ocean, South Pacific ocean and North Atlantic ocean till this date. As a narration of the first part of the Seven Ocean project, the following statement relates my experience during the creation of ‘Arabian Sea My Rasa Rekha’, 2015. 


Resha, Kerala, India, 2017 / Photo by Santosh Pari


As I step into the water my awareness and senses are concentrated at my feet, the skin on my feet sensing, my nerves responding to the water and I become lost. I am lost into the world of water, where energy, movement, speed and velocity overwhelm my senses. I experience an irresistible pleasure and words are rendered with insufficiency for me to express anything, the experience evokes feelings similar to catharsis,a catharsis as a single point and confluence of emotion, intimately connected to the expression of Rasa. At this moment I transfer my existence with the water into lines. All my feelings and my senses connecting with the force of the sea, waves giving expression and form through my act of drawing. Each mark on the silk material that is made becomes a representation of the vibration of my body as it encounters the current and velocity of the ocean. The whole process directed by my pleasure and joy.

Kisito Assangni is a Togolese-French curator, art consultant, and farmer who studied museology at Ecole du Louvre in Paris. Currently living between UK, France and Togo, his research focuses primarily on psychogeography and the cultural impact of globalisation. He investigates the modes of cultural production that combine theory and practice. He inherently aims at going beyond the usual relations between artist, curator, institution, audience, and artwork in order to engage audiences in encounters with art that are unexpected, transformative, and fun. His discursive public programs and exhibitions have been shown internationally, including the Venice Biennale; ZKM Museum, Karlsruhe; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Centre of Contemporary Art, Glasgow; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Malmo Konsthall, Sweden; Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles; Es Baluard Museum of Art, Palma, Spain; National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow; Marrakech Biennale among others. Assangni has participated in talks, seminars, and symposia at numerous institutions such as the British Museum, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; Ben Uri Museum, London; Pori Art Museum, Finland; Kunsthall 3.14, Bergen (Norway); Bamako Encounters Photography Biennial, Mali; Sala Rekalde Foundation, Bilbao; COP17 Summit, South Africa; Depart Foundation, Malibu (USA); Sint-Lukas University, Brussels; Motorenhalle Centre of Contemporary Art, Dresden (Germany); Kunsthalle Sao Paulo, Brazil; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Ticino, Switzerland. Assangni is the founder of TIME is Love Screening (International video art program) and art advisor for Latrobe Regional Gallery in Victoria, Australia.

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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