Suman Gujral

Suman’s practice is inspired by her history as an immigrant and child of refugees. Currently, her work is focused on migration, climate change and the partitioning of India in 1947.

Her work often casts a light on global events and she works with print as it has long been used as a medium for protest and social commentary, from Callot and Goya in Europe the horrors of war to Chittoprasad in 1930s India protesting against colonialism and Printmakers against Racism, set up in the wake of BLM. 

The interplay between light and shadow in life underlies her practice. Light creates shadow and shadow helps us to appreciate the light. She has explored this idea during lockdown with expanded drawings, 140x100cm, looking at the effects of lockdown for individuals and communities. Her work also responds to daily life- the landscapes where she lives, works and goes on holiday often feature in her work. She is fascinated by human ability to survive and even thrive in the aftermath of trauma, having seen in this with her own parents who had to flee their homes at the 1947 Partition of India but managed to make new lives. 

Etching is a particularly appropriate medium to explore these concerns as acid leaves permanent marks on the plate echoing how life leaves its traces on us, giving us new maps to navigate by. We see both intended and unpredicted marks being made- which reflects how global and local events act on us. She tries to use environmentally friendly ways of working- such as solar etching and drawing, in response to climate change. Recently, she has started to write poetry to support her prints and is planning to publish a book with poetry and prints. 

Suman’s icon is Zarina Hashmi, who died at 85 but carried on making socially responsive, compassionate work until the end of her life. She also meditated on human resilience. Marlene Dumas also inspires Suman for her wonderful drawings and Mona Hatoum for the scale of her ambition. She is also fascinated by printmakers from the Indian subcontinent-Somnath Hore, Anupam Sud and Kavita Nayar. Suman was awarded a bursary by A-N Artists to develop her practice earlier this year. 

Her mentor Lewis Biggs, formerly director of Tate Liverpool, has helped her decide the direction of her practice. She is currently planning large scale installations about migration and climate. 

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