J Chuhan was born in India, studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and is currently Professor of International Art at Liverpool John Moores University. Her work has been exhibited internationally and at venues across the UK including Tate Liverpool; Barbican Centre, London; Arnolfini, Bristol and Ikon, Birmingham; and features in collections including the Arts Council Collection; University of Liverpool Art Collection and Usher Gallery, Lincoln.
In her Bodies series, the artist describes her intention as "painting not only the physical experience of birth, but also the emotional and psychic experience, encompassing polarities of pleasure and pain." Chuhan's imagery derives from personal experience but also draws on secondary source materials, including medical diagrams, the tantric, diagrammatic images of child birth in South Asian art, photographs and film footage.
Chuhan's work is often interpreted as a celebration of womanhood linked to Hindu philosophy and the idea of 'mother' as a creative spirit, which lies at the heart of Hindi religious iconography. This concept is a recurring motif in the poetry of Rabrindinath Tagore, the celebrated Indian poet painter and a significant influence on Chuhan. Although such ideas are assimilated in Chuhan's work, rather than a straight-forward celebration of womanhood, there is, rather a tension between this and an unequivocal interrogation of what it means to be a woman, the pleasure and the pain of that physical, emotional and psychic experience.
Text by Amy Dickson, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern
'The Body Inside' book presents recent paintings and drawings by J Chuhan, with essays by art historian Sheila Maddison and curator Amy Dickson. Published by Centre for Art International Research (CAIR), Liverpool School of Art and Design. Distributed worldwide by Cornerhouse Publications. ISBN 0-9547306-9-0.