Canadian artist Nimisha Bhanot has begun a series of paintings called Badass Indian Pinups that show Indian women breaking patriarchal expectations by smoking cigarettes, dressing suggestively, and gazing seductively, typically while decked out in traditional Indian jewelry, clothing, and perhaps even sporting a bindi — a red dot worn in the center of the forehead that typically denotes a married woman.
The Toronto-based artist had been drawing and painting since she was a child, but her graduating year at OCAD University, Toronto, in 2012-13 coincided with the infamous gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in New Delhi. Bhanot had already begun making art “more geared towards the societal role and perception of the Indian woman,” but the victim-blaming in the wake of the incident highlighted Indian society’s hypocritical attitude towards its women, and “sincerely pissed [off]” Bhanot, she told Buzzfeed. Her Badass Indian Pinups, which features titled pieces such as “Sweeping Patriarchy Under The Rug” and “Ironing out Wrinkles In Your Perception,” show women who are “exceptionally badass … free to be whatever and whoever they want to be,” Bhanot told Quartz. “They’re looking back at their viewer. This gaze maximizes the subject’s confidence, and that’s what my art is all about.”
Read the full story at Quartz.