As a part of the lead up to Mardi Gras, five Indian artists have come to Sydney to share their works with Sydney. Refracted Lives is the inaugural exhibition of the finalists of the InsideOut Art Prize – India’s first national competition for LGBTQ artists.

“Just as light is refracted, so the lives of LGBTQ people bend to the rules of society and the expectations of family and friends. Often, we respond to the forces of religion, family, and the law by bending or subjugating our own needs, desires, and goals. We may appear to be what we are not, or even become what we do not want to be.” Curator Stevie Clayton OAM.

We hosted the artists for a morning, taking them to Koori Radio to be interviewed on Blackchat with Lola Forester.

The artists were Adil Kalim – originally from Jharkhand, Aditya Raj – originally from Rajasthan, Ashish Verma – from Delhi, Baishali Chetia – originally from Assam and Suvajit Mandal – originally from West Bengal now works in Dharamshala (where the Dalai Lama lives).

They enjoyed a stroll back to UTS as we talked about the history of Aboriginal Australia and their communities back home. Sharing along the way observations as contemporaries that connect us through history of colinisation and imperialism.

We learned that a couple of the artists are working with elders to learn knowledge and to maintain the artwork but reintepreting into new mediums a part of theworks into current culture, we told them that there are some artists doing the same here in Australia and they then went to visit the elders exhibition at the NSW State Library curated by Jonathan Jones working with elders. We also learned about their impacts of having to work away from the family craft and learning fine art styles and incorporating the lessons of mixing culture and new mediums.

We showed them some of the artwork created for the Sorry for your Loss exhibition and some even tried on the possum cloak.

Baishali Chetia with the Possum Cloak from Sorry For Your Loss exhibition

In NSW homosexuality was decriminalised in 1984, but s377 of the Indian Penal Code was struck down in India only last September. And their competition was in August 2018 – so the artists had to be out about being LGBTQ when it was still illegal.

Their artwork is on display until the 2nd of March

National Art School Gallery

Forbes Street


15th February – 2nd March,
Thursday – Friday | 11am – 10pm
Saturday – Saturday | 11am – 5pm