Opashona Ghosh is an illustrator and artist, born in Calcutta and ‘braised’ as she says, in Central Saint Martins, at the University of the Arts (London). Negotiating, as she has, through her identities as brown and queer in different spaces, Opash0na today identifies herself and her work as ‘Cocoa butter propaganda empowering queer femininity in an acid rave palette’ showing, through her style of illustration and art- a world where there is freedom, for everyone.
Q. How did you get started in illustration?
Illustration for me started when years of unhealthy dancing to oppressive patriarchy met with knowledge and choice… resulting in a deep desire for freedom. There was a point in my life when I had to re-imagine what it truly meant to me to be a queer brown woman… in homeland and abroad. My work became my tool to navigate through the politics of the queer brown experience dreaming to reinvent damaging cis-centric narratives that have abused us for far too long.
Q. Take us through some of your work and the sentiments they try to share?
My personal work makes sense if you have seen several and observed the trajectory. The real ‘work’ is the journey in all its embarrassing glory! For me, it’s my space to express disobedience to the norm, replace fear with kindness, meditate on healing inclusive values, piss-take on damaging hetero-normative agencies, and, most importantly, be very, very emotional.
Q. You describe your work as queer pop with a hint of tropical fantasy. Are these fantasies you experience personally or a journey you want the perceiver to have with you?
Yes, I’ve said that to describe my work aesthetically.
Fantasy, is shared desires and fears across cultures that allow individuals or communities to dream, reinvent and interrogate. Our mythology defines us – and it’s more ‘pop’ than you think! I try to combine the two to talk about ‘pop’ular catastrophes that no one wants to talk about, like issues of mental and sexual health.
Q. How does your work intersect with your personal politics and identity?
They are conflicting extensions of each other! Similar in their ethics, but very different in how they would react to difficult situations.
On further reflection, I think my work has given me confidence to be an authentic version of myself in real life – in exploration of my personal values, in my terrible sense of sarcasm and in moments of deep vulnerability.
Q. In your opinion, how has art been an important and effective tool in starting a conversation in today’s time about ‘queerness’, sexuality and gender-variance?
Art has the power to transcend language, space and time, and since forever has been instrumental in propagating change.
In conversations about gender, it has come far, but there is a long way to go. Especially in a place like India, where we are divided by language, class, caste, ‘intellect’, accent and colour even, our efforts have perhaps only stirred the privileged 1% (or less). It’s a start, but we should be conscious of where we are really are and whom we are talking to before patting our backs just yet.
Q. Could you tell us about some of your best projects of 2017?
I’ve been working with London-based musicians and parties who are trying to find a unique place for themselves through a fun exploration of dance, sound and, space.
My work with Ben Assiter (Mr. Assister), ‘inner u’ and ‘SIREN’ are very different. But for me, what connects them is our shared interest in dance culture; in raw expressions of primordial desires on the dance-floor. I use this energy to inspire me to create visual worlds for them that complement their vibe, or so I try!
Q. What would be the most desired response you’d like from people to your work?
I’d like to keep my desires restricted to me for now! I am at the very beginning of my career and slowly laying the foundations of things to come. It would be a shame to dilute the experience by instilling ideas at this point.
Q. Who do you stalk on Instagram?
I must say, I am very uncomfortable with the connotations of “stalk” and have a very conflicting relationship with social media. Having said that, I do follow and enjoy quite a few contemporary artists who ask excellent questions through their work. I am currently very inspired by artist Wolfgang Tillmans, Kat Toronto (Miss Meatface), and illustrator and researcher Moshtari (monmoshtari).
Q. What is your favorite one-liner joke?
Boys will be boys.
Q. What new colors would you play with, in the new and inclusive 2018?
Your-cis-narratives-are-a-yawn purple; my-teenage-angst-brings-all-the-girls-to-the-yard green; bless-this-acid-house yellow and pay-artists orange.