This spooky season, few things can spur Desi aunties into a jittery, maniacal frenzy – the way Anirban Ghosh’s magnetically raw #Inktober series could.
Initiated by artist Jake Parker as a means to enhance skill and establish positive illustrative habits, #Inktober is a month-long artistic challenge, which involves artists from all around the world – creating an ink drawing a day, for the entire month of October.
This year, Anirban Ghosh, an out-and-proud gay artist, undertook the challenge and created a series of ink illustrations that celebrate gender and sexuality, whilst simultaneously bespeaking the captivatingly raw, layered nuances of kinks, fetishes, and forbidden desires.
Inspired by official prompts from #Inktober, which included suggestive words like #Sling, #Wild, #Ride, #Catch, #Ripe, etc. – Ghosh decided to give his illustrations a kinky twist. A subsequent Instagram survey consulting his friends and followers about his interesting new idea, resulted in affirmative responses and encouragement from their end – which only strengthened his resolve to exhibit erotic interpretations of the cues.
“I have always wanted to finish an #Inktober challenge, as it is an opportunity to take a break from the digital world and invest in hand-drawn, ink illustrations that can be so meditative and emotionally rewarding. However, previously, the excitement would frizzle out after a week of drawing. This year I was more determined and somewhere midway I also realized that there was a possibility to interpret the prompts in the form of erotica,” confesses Ghosh.
Whilst mainstream erotica is typically fed a staple diet of hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine bodies boasting perfect symmetry and conventionally attractive body types, Ghosh trudges down the road less travelled by capturing a plethora of body types, non-binary figures, and non-conforming sexual preferences. “As an out-and-proud gay artist, I have always tried to self-introspect and challenge my own unconscious biases,” he adds.
As testimony to the above statement, a vast majority of his illustrations are socio-politically charged, and serve to disestablish conventional gender roles and harmful stereotypes – delivering a significant blow to “art for art’s sake” controversialists.
At any rate, it’s no secret that feminine body types have shivered under the lecherous touch of cis-het men, been bent over and snapped into two before the disparaging gaze of apathetic older women, been repeatedly assured that their bodies are too plump, too skinny, too heavy, too curvy, too much fat, not enough bone, too much of everything, too less of everything, but somehow, never enough of anything.
And the real irony lies in the fact that these age-old, toxic sentiments have now seeped into queer spaces and LGBTQ online platforms. Addressing the idiosyncrasy of his erotic illustrations, in the face of the queer community’s hypocrisy, Ghosh says, “It’s ironic to see how we – one minority group – can use the same stereotypes to shame another sub-group that hetero-patriarchy is often accused of.”
Ghosh asserts that he was fortunate to have friends who were incredibly receptive to, and unconditionally supportive of his unusual creative endeavours; including several cis and trans women who confided in him about their own desires and fantasies upon witnessing his initial posts.
As we’re all aware, one of the major causes of apprehension and anxiety amongst artists – is the looming shadow of censorship and political correctness that plagues every wrinkle, every crevice, every little nuance in their work. But Ghosh claims to be unconcerned about censorship, noting that a vast majority of his work has been grounded in stigmatized issues, like gender, sexuality, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights – several of which have been granted accolades, and also received critical acclamation.
“I feel the presentation always matters“, he says, before adding that his extravagant use of metaphors, symbolic representation, abstraction and unconventional compositions enabled him to portray the physicality and emotions which accompany sex and sexuality – without necessarily being conspicuous about it.
So whilst certain illustrations are easily discernible and unmistakeably erotic in nature, others are slightly more complex, and often hold subtext that would make Shakespeare whimper with pride.
An unusual blend of emotionally-laden illustrations and undeniably arousing visuals, this #Inktober challenge witnessed a fun twist to an otherwise mundane set of prompts.
In recent times, artists all around the world have been exploring relatively new concepts as part of their work, including ineffable themes, like: sex, sexuality and pleasure.
Anirban Ghosh, a Bangalore-based gay artist and user-experience designer by day – is one of many artists who’ve decided to break down walls and create empowered communities through their fantastic, life-changing art.
And as 2019 draws to an end, I cannot wait to see what the next few years bring to the avant-garde art scene in India, and across the globe.