Sutapa Biswas

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Sutapa Biswas
Born1962 (age 58–59)
Alma materUniversity of Leeds, Slade School of Art, Royal College of Art

Sutapa Biswas (born 1962) is a British Indian conceptual artist, who works across a range of media including painting, drawing, film and time-based media.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India, in 1962.[2] At the age of four, she moved to London, England, with her family,[2] and grew up in Southall.[3] Between 1981 and 1985 she studied at the University of Leeds.[2] She then studied art the Slade School of Art in London from 1988-1990.[2] From 1996 to 1998, Biswas studied at the Royal College of Art.[2]


As a conceptual artist, Biswas works in a variety of mediums, including performance, film, photography[4] and installation.[2] During the 1980s, Biswas was primarily a painter.[5] For instance, her paintings Housewives with Steak-Knives (1985) and Through Rose-Tinted Windows form part of the Bradford Museums and Galleries permanent collections on display at Cartwright Hall.[6] She also worked in video. Kali (1984) is a thirty-minute video that the artist Sutapa Biswas made while a student at the University of Leeds. It documents a performance by the artist as Kali and her fellow student as Ravan. Kali – whose name means the ‘black one’ – is the Hindu goddess of time and change and within Hindu mythology she was created to inhabit more than one representation (hence her multiple appearances in the performance) to rid the world of evil, which is here embodied by Ravan. Biswas often draws from myths and iconography from ancient Hindu mythologies, speaking of the symbolism she says 'I want people to research into my culture, as I've been doing into European and Western culture'.[7] In 1985, Biswas's work was exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in the exhibition The Thin Black Line, an exhibition of young Black and Asian women artists curated by Lubaina Himid.[8]

Sutapa Biswas's works often reflect on questions of gender and cultural and ethnic identity.[9] For instance, her film Birdsong captures the story of young Indian boy who longs to own a horse and is filmed against the backdrop of an English period home.[10] Biswas is also keen to use humour and satire in her work.[7] In her painting 'The Last Mango in Paris' depicting two women talking and peeling mango's the caption below reads. M: 'If you were to be re-born, and had a choice what would you come back as?' B: 'If I were to be reborn again, I would be born an English dog, because in England they look after their dogs really well.' [7] She is keen to use her work as a platform for people to begin to address their own racism. Biswas was the 2008 Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Yale Centre for British Art, and is a European Photography Award nominee. She is currently a Reader Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.[11]

Public collections[edit]

Biswas' work is held in the following public collection:

Solo exhibitions[edit]

1987 Sutapa Biswas, Horizon Gallery, London[13]

1992 Synapse: Sutapa Biswas, The Photographers' Gallery, London, (texts by Gilane Twaadros and David Chandler).[13]

2021 'Lumen', Sutapa Biswas, BALTIC Contemporary

2021 'Lumen' Sutapa Biswas, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge


  1. ^ "Sutapa Biswas", iniva, Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Sutapa Biswas". Feminist Art Base, Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  3. ^ Elkin, Lauren (2021-10-15). "Recognition, at Last, After Decades Decolonizing Art". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-10-16.
  4. ^ 'Critical Decade: Black British Photography in the 80s', Ten.8 vol. 2, no. 3, 1992
  5. ^ "Birdsong - Film by Sutapa Biswas", Culture24. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  6. ^ 2 artworks by or after Sutapa Biswas, Art UK. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Visibly female : feminism and art : an anthology. Robinson, Hilary, 1956-. London, England: Camden. 1987. p. 37. ISBN 0-948491-31-0. OCLC 18257320.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ "Thin Black Line(s)". Making Histories Visible. 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  9. ^ Motley, John. "Sutapa Biswas". Portland Mercury. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  10. ^ "Sutapa Biswas", PICA, Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Sutapa Biswas – Manchester School of Art". Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  12. ^ "Sutapa Biswas", Tate, Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  13. ^ a b Keen, Melanie. (1996). Recordings : a select bibliography of contemporary African, Afro-Caribbean and Asian British art. Ward, Elizabeth., Chelsea College of Art and Design., Institute of International Visual Arts. London: Institute of International Visual Arts and Chelsea College of Art and Design. ISBN 1-899846-06-9. OCLC 36076932.

Further reading[edit]