Moutushi’s work is both a critique and an attempt to subvert the truths of gender in a patriarchal society.
‘The feminine body for me is a discursive entity that generates questions of gender politics within a strong patriarchal society like ours,’ says Moutushi. ‘My attempt has been to historically trace the origin of this disposition by researching iconographic images and early photographic evidence. Continuously referencing these sources allows me to address the changing notions of feminine identity, empowerment, sexuality and tolerance.’Since 2001, Moutushi has relentlessly searched for these antique and historical images of Indian women. Her compositions are a delicate combination of these with a range of poignant visual references including fabrics, embroidered patterns and other personal/found memoirs. She often refers to herself as ‘scavenger of memories’. Moutushi’s work often has a dark humour, achieved in part by imposing or replacing a character in the image (sometimes played by the artist herself).
For example, her Binodini works are inspired by upper-class Hindus curiously adopting the Muslim practice of purdah in the 19th century – the screening of women from men and strangers with a curtain. The two staged images play with the irony of a woman’s concealment from the outside world, whilst allowing her to explore her sexuality inside the home, oblivious to prying eyes. The work strives to address the issue of voyeurism that remains intrinsically woven into the fabric of Indian social history.
Moutushi is a master in a range of media and techniques, utilising drawing with ink and coffee, painting and block and screen-printing in her works. She is the recipient of a number of prestigious fellowships and awards, including the Charles Wallace India Trust Award for Visual Arts, a Lalit Kala fellowship, and a Commonwealth Fellowship for Arts and Crafts in the UK.
She lives and works in Kolkata, and her works are housed in private collections across India, Europe and Australia.