Jagjit Chuhan

Born 1955 Punjab, India

Biography

Jai (Jagjit) Chuhan is an Indian-born British artist, best known for her vivid expressionistic paintings of isolated female figures within interior spaces. She is inspired by the trans-cultural nexus between Indian and British culture, exploring historical and contemporary art both from within and beyond the Western discourse. The female nude and male gaze are frequent foci. Combining aesthetic influences from the Western painting tradition with the dance configurations of Indian sculpture, Chuhan layers colour to depict the naked body, in painting that ‘unfolds and reveals itself into a configuration that expresses a female gaze’. These nude figures are often depicted in womblike interiors. Chuhan constructs painterly space through simplified geometric abstractions.  The ambiguity of these spaces, with their impressionistic windows and mirrors, constitute settings to explore psychological experiences of home and ‘unhome’, with their gendered connotations. Chuhan studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1970s) and has held various academic positions, including Professor of International Art at Liverpool John Moores University.

Artwork Information

Figure II (2006) is part of a series of works called ‘Bodies’ by Jai Chuhan. It portrays a pregnant woman leaning over a table, as though about to go into labour. This intimate and impressionistic drawing is inspired by the artist’s personal experience, as well as secondary sources including medical diagrams, film footage, and the tantric diagram-like images of childbirth in South Asian art. In the artist’s own words, her intention was to transcribe ‘not only the physical experience of birth, but also the emotional and psychic experience, encompassing polarities of pleasure and pain.’ The simplistic geometric lines create the impression of interior space, within which the figure appears as spectacle captured in the intimate moment of labour.