The world of caricatures has been flipped all the way into rainbow territory and beyond. It’s rather cosmic and it makes sense that it would come from India. This is a country teeming with multi-colored fabrics and landscapes, a culture of 1,000 gods and goddesses all buoyant with pigment. It’s the land where Kama Sutra delivered us into a rainbow of mystic positions and deliberately seductive renditions.
Rainbows represent LGBTQIA+ and it makes total sense that Mili Sethia would use it to campaign her own work. It’s not about portraits as much as it is about breaking binary notions and turning the world on its head. She’s known for taking 90’s Bollywood sex symbols and revamping them with a queer angle. It’s called Esqueer and it’s all about breaking down masculinity as we know it and society has defined it. In addressing the masculinity concept, Sethia tells us what a troupe it really is. All things can be queer and seem to be, quiet organically, actually.
Admire Sethia’s color schemes, mystic implications, and queer sheen present in every piece, every brush stroke applied with what feels like magic potency. The work deviates very little –portraits upon portraits upon portraits. Yet the remarkable part is that each portrait includes its own aura energy field. She has even named her portraits Queertraits, a play upon her Bollywood project. Sethia does not shy away from queerness.
Sethia received plenty of attention for Esqueer project –one that demands India to re-evaluate its sexual initiative. Her portaits sparkle like a very queer star. Sethia is in touch with colors and the queer community in effective ways. And she sees the world in ways we might not be able to understand or fathom. However, that matters very little.
Sethia’s mastery is color, no doubt. Even the artist realizes this, “I like to see the world through rainbow-tinted glasses.” Combining colors in unpredictable ways leaves the viewer with an impression of the artist themselves –that art is unpredictable, vibrant, and beaming with energy.
Sethia’s mastery is color, no doubt. Even the artist realizes this, “I like to see the world through rainbow-tinted glasses.” Combining colors in unpredictable ways leaves the viewer with an impression of the artist themselves. Art is unpredictable, vibrant, and beaming with energy in that way.
Each piece is a peak into Sethia’s brain. To experience her work is to view the world through her proverbial rainbow colored glasses. And we ask ourselves: is the artist wearing tinted glasses or is the artist blessed beyond the paintbrush? Is she gifted with the ability to see auric impressions.
We are enchanted by the hues and Sethia’s willingness to experiment with color and conventions. We are thankful that she’s using her voice to combat social ideologies long needed to be evaluated.
Sethia sets the stage for interesting questions and they transpire as rainbow colored sweat beads all along our foreheads. That India heat matching the fever set off by Sethia’s portraits.
The real beauty is in Mili Sethia’s life. While many painters and artists barely find the time to produce work, it appears that Sethia is living by art. Going to festivals and meeting patrons at local shops, Sethia makes sure her art is seen by the public. She puts her art’s mission out there.
What does this say about the artist? That she believes in self. While the concept of painting and selling portraits is nothing new, it is in Sethia’s determination that the artist can identify self. If anything, Sethia reminds the artist to stay true to self, to be an advocate for a life of authenticity. It’s refreshing. Not to mention, her audacious take on masculinity, queerness, and gender all point to the portrait of an artist as a young, queer human.
WORDS BY: Jacklyn Janeksela