The female subjects of Habiba Nowrose’s ‘Concealed’ series are lost in the dizzying patterns and lurid swirls of their immediate surroundings. Faces and bodies blend into kitsch backdrops. Instead of standing out, the women in her portraits are an extension of their surroundings, prisoners of their situation, and not their own persons. It is exactly this loss of individuality and identity that is the theme of Habiba’s ongoing exhibition at Kala Kendra.
“I have tried to create a sense of ambivalence in these portraits. As women we are often compelled to portray our beautiful selves. In that path to avail beauty we are made to shed our individuality. Eventually we lose ourselves and become one with that fabricated image,” remarks the artist and photographer. Indeed, her subjects are present, without really being there at all. They become mere props to complement the colours and composition of the canvas—instruments to propagate a cause they are not in control of. With faces, wholesale football jerseys necks, hands, and arms wrapped up in brilliant, vibrant prints, their powerlessness is abundantly clear—this is a cover-up of monumental proportions, but hidden under bright georgettes and done up with a bow, one could never tell. Read more.