Between Kolkata, Berlin, and London, the rising-star illustrator keeps on showering us with colorful sex-positive queer images, in art shows, magazines, and fashion brands commissions, and dance event posters. With these striking illustrations, the artist reflects and invites us to think about what sex and gender mean in our daily lives and communities, and whether we could achieve more freedom should society constructs, pressure and taboos fall and let us be physically, sexually, and emotionally honest and loving.
This new series of yours, KIN, it feels like it is personal but also has roots in academia?
When one is dealing with narratives of queer sexuality, race, and gender, you cannot talk from the void. As an artist, I have a social and moral responsibility to myself and to my audience. For me, the role of art is not solely to self-express, but also to share knowledge and build a community. KIN is my open-research project on the subject matter. It allowed me to read, reflect and formulate my erotic opinions with care.
How do you reconcile sex from an intellectual point of view and from an emotional point of view, when things go well, and when things do not go so well?
In recent history with the political rise of the far-right, fascism, and capitalism, our engagement with sex has changed. Tender values of pleasure and emotional agency have been replaced by the need of and for power. Leaving us unsatisfied in bed and in life. The changing point for me was an accidental introduction to 70s feminism that inspired me to know more about my body, rights and the therapeutic qualities of sex. My intellectual and emotional experiences of sex have deepened my relationship with myself and expanded my sense of awareness. It has helped foster a stronger sense of identity by deconditioning my mind and body from damaging heteronormative values and expectations. Notes from my bed: there is no bad sex, only bad attitude. The latter easily replaced with a vibrator.
Do you feel that the way society presents sex to women is empowering or debilitating? As when you were a teen when you learned about sex via books/magazines/movies/school…as an adult, nowadays, post #MeToo?
I am overjoyed by the various conversations across interdisciplinary platforms around female sexuality right now. It has exposed women across generations to options that they were previously unaware of, given them the agency to choose and cultivated better friendship among women. There’s a beautiful healing quality to women coming together in positive dialogue.
Having said that, there’s a fine line between sexual liberation and over-sexualization, the dangers of which can be and should be mitigated consciously at homes, amongst friends, in media, and by having more approachable sexual and mental health systems. But the change really begins with ourselves — in our actions, thoughts, and attitudes — and it’s plenty if we can do a decent job of just that.
What aspect of sexuality in society would you like your series/works to help to heal?
Change is an active realization in present continuous. KIN allowed me to begin a dialogue around QIPOC sexual health, and it’s just the beginning of a series of explorations on nurturing the healing qualities of vulnerability, sex, and transformation. With KIN, I used nature as a metaphor throughout. My next series deals with the metamorphosis of woman and nature as a way to evolve individually and collectively. I am not here to heal others, but to share my personal stories and research with the aim to create stronger bonds among women, shun damaging narratives of slut-shaming and homophobia, and have fun doing it.
Are genders at war? Is sex war? Is the way society presents sex to all genders war on human beings?
Gender’s a social construct, sex is a tender thing of desire, and yes the way society presents sex to all genders is a war on humanity. [Hetero] men in power and capitalism profit from the misery of un-informed, unsatisfied and submissive bodies, who would go to any extent to fulfill their void. Sex portrayed in mainstream media falsely promises its audience to find their “better half” or “perfect match” — one without which you are not complete. Historically speaking, sex never promised a dramatic resolution — rather a continuous exploration or retreat from societal expectations. The resolution is in what you do with it and how you use it (or not use it).
You have been working on other projects and collaborations, how do all your works fit together?
It all informs each other. My various collaborations with London and Berlin-based electronic musicians, parties, and festivals push me out of my comfort zone, make me visually explore beyond my artistic vocabulary (but within my world) and for that, I am forever grateful. I have found new desires, colors, and shapes in creating unique worlds for them. It also allows me to stay grounded, focused and organized. Without my commissions, I would a boring artist trying to save the world with one entitled opinion at a time.
Between all your works, and all your travels and cosmopolitan lifestyle, what is your current career or life master plan?
Oh dear, that’s a big one. To be working and living between LDN, TXL and CCU is a masterclass in unconditional motivation, humility, and labor… and a big lesson in patience. Having said that, I believe that this constant confrontation of the expanses and limitations unique to the three worlds has molded me into the person I have always wanted to be but was too shy to ask. I cannot predict the future but I have been investing a lot of love, labor, and energy on some constructive changes in my work and life.
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