Sosa Joseph’s paintings are a significant, distinctive contribution to contemporary Indian figuration. One of the few women artists working in Kerala, she cherishes the meaning and potency of painting, further deconstructing the idea of painting as a male domain. Neither satire nor social commentary, her intense, psychologically charged works ex- plore themes of gender, religious identity and the amalgamation of historical and cul- tural influences that inform the social fabric of Kerala.
Embodying images drawn from the world around her – mainly the graphic experience of coastal living in Kerala – Sosa Joseph has, like many other artists through history, investi- gated the emotional and spatial qualities of her environment and that of her personal life, blurring the boundaries between the two in works that have a comprehensive visual impact. In both her small and large format paintings we confront the artist’s world of re- ality crossed with fantasy: nature, often aqueous, spills over with the catch of the day stacked high in nets and baskets, crabs and shrimps still scuttling for shelter. There is a frequent withdrawal into domestic space with representations of pots and pans and still- life arrangements of cutlery, crockery, flowers and fruit. The prickly jackfruit is a recurring image, sometimes hacked open with a knife, its fleshy innards revealed. Images like these – some with more subtle inflections – echo this artist’s preoccupation with truth. An added depth is proposed by the sensuality suggested by movements and textures, an effect enhanced by the different ways Sosa uses paint. The visibility of layering under- scores the importance of the painting process itself, while the mixing and re-mixing of her colours often whitened down to the consistency of pastels even in her watercolours and oils, enables her to achieve subtle chromatic and textural nuances with thin layers of paint. Sosa’s is an art practice with both personalised and universal content, an art very much involved in painterly processes and in the privileging of intuition, emotion and imagination.