Born in India, Sarupa Sidaarth studied at Sir J.J. School of Art and received her MFA at Academy of Art in San Francisco, United States.
Her studio practice flows predominantly from an intuitive and emotional approach. Inspired by ornament, she creates an imaginative response to conflict by transforming images that allude to social and environmental issues into moments of transcendence. Her awards and achievements include First Prize at Brea Gallery’s Made in Paint 2018, Frey Foundation Grant, Golden Foundation Residency and NordArt in Germany. She was chosen as a Regional Finalist in the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series 2016 in San Francisco. She won the K.K. Modi Fellowship and Pasca scholarship to France in 2011. She has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions in India, Europe, and the United States. Sarupa Sidaarth lives and works in Marin County, California.
Q&A WITH SARUPA SIDAARTH
What concept or narrative is behind your work?
Inspired by ornament, I create an imaginative response to conflict on canvas by transforming images that allude to social and environmental issues into moments of transcendence. Like humanity, ornament is ridden with hierarchy and bias, which divert attention from appreciation of its essence. Subversive and unusual raw materials easily rejected in traditional painting, like googly eyes, eyelets, and crystals, are interspersed with acrylic paint to explore how we assign value to objects and differentiate between high and low art. I want to engage the viewer with a different discourse. Through mark making and the power of ornament, my work expresses a need for change and explores the possibility of the new.
How much time is dedicated to the execution of the work before you actually start the process?
It is an ongoing process; I have worked on different series with the same underlying theme for eight years.
What is the price range of your art?
$500 to $20,000
What is the average size of your artwork?
I love to paint on large surfaces, but I think the average is 36-48 inches. I am excited to begin painting on 8-10 inch canvases to see where it goes.
How true are you to your artist statement?
I was born in India; I grew up with fantastical images of Gods and Goddesses. It is a very visually rich culture, where adorning the self and surroundings is the norm. The concept of decoration is deeply embedded in me. I don’t embellish everything I own; it is innate. I investigate what ornament means to me in contemporary painting.
How much time does it take you to create an artwork?
It depends on the medium, size, and technique. Some work is more detail-oriented and labor-intensive. I don’t keep track of that really, because I work on multiple canvases simultaneously, and they get done when they choose to. I don’t have a problem with discipline, so it works out. Other than meeting professional deadlines, I don’t like to limit myself with time constraints when the goal is to discover something new. Although I do appreciate restriction when I work on a cohesive series because it allows me to play with nuances.
What is your ultimate goal for your artwork?
I am in pursuit of a language that is less borrowed. The toughest thing to do as an artist is to do something original.
Do you ever venture out of your creative process to try out new things?
Yes, I made a video of meditating at the Louvre as a performance and tried moss as an art medium. I worked at a botanical garden in France for the latter, grew moss on a substrate and documented the interaction between life and art. I was experimenting with recipes commonly used by gardeners, and I had very little time to make it work. It was rewarding to come back to bugs and snails on my work, and extremely liberating to lose control to nature.
What other artists have you shown with?
What are you trying to express, or where do you see yourself going, with your body of work until now?
I have lots of great ideas to move forward with painting, and I am tempted to try digital art. I think it is important to observe your own artistic practice with a sense of detachment. In my experience, that is when growth happens, or true progress takes place. It’s a tough thing to do because often we get caught up in what we want to achieve within fixed parameters or how we want to be perceived. I change things up when it starts to get monotonous, which I find incredibly boring. This is why I have always oscillated between figurative and non-figurative art. My non-figurative paintings express a greater immediacy and mediate a reality I often lose myself in when I paint portraits. I am also thrilled about getting back to oils, my first love, after almost a decade!