From ‘And when she roared, the universe quaked’


Shakuntala Kulkarni addresses certain pressing feminist issues through her 2007 series of women-centric paintings. Here, the central figure is a large voluptuous woman in a confident stance. The artist is taking a stab at body dysmorphia and the pressures that women face to conform physically to societal norms. She represents women in positions of power to counter the status quo. In this composition, the woman is seen holding a bow and arrow pointed at a target outside the frame. Kulkarni uses tones of greys and browns to represent the strong women in her series; these colours neutralise any gender bias in favour of say, pinks to depict femininity. The stark greys, browns and blacks give the woman’s figure a kind of dominating and powerful appearance. However, this is juxtaposed with pink flowers in the background that allude to her femininity, thus keeping a balance between strength and vulnerability. In Kulkarni’s world as depicted in this series, woman are powerful warriors in charge of their own destiny.

Shakuntala Kulkarni started off as an abstract expressionist artist before moving towards the figurative. (Learn to decode common art terms here.) Today, she has moved beyond canvases and into real-time/space with installation art; her work was part of the India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019. Kulkarni’s colour palette comprises mostly of tones of greys and browns, as she believes they perfectly represent her somber themes and figurative forms. Apart from painting, the artist is also interested in theater and has worked closely with filmmaker and actor Amol Palekar and dramatist Satyadev Dubey. Kulkarni has extensively exhibited her works in renowned institutions all across India, and she currently lives and works in Mumbai.

From 'And when she roared, the universe quaked'
Album Title
'And when she roared, the universe quaked'
Shakuntala Kulkarni
Acrylic paint on glass and fabric
H: 21.9 cm x W: 16 cm
Accession No.
2018.64.1 (1)