Suman Gujral – What We Don’t Talk About
Window and online exhibition at The Departure Lounge, Luton
Reflecting on the personal and political events which shape us, Suman Gujral’s practice sheds light on the cycle of war, genocide and loss rooted in colonial history.
Her works explore both the historical and contemporary issues and narratives surrounding refugees, drawing on the experiences of her own family who were forcibly displaced by the Partition of India in 1947. Unable to return home, they grew up with the memory of lost family members, surrounded by refugee camps. These are events which, Gujral has recently come to understand, have profoundly affected the lives and experiences of her family and millions of others.
Drawing on these stories of displacement, Gujral’s series Syriascapes responds to the catastrophe of the Syrian civil war. Working with imagery directly related to the war itself, the works speak of ruined landscapes and look deeper at the upheaval and destruction of lives, by bombing and ongoing conflict.
Gujral uses print as her preferred medium – with its strong connections to protest and political commentary. She utilises unpredictable printing processes, which underscore her themes and echo her thought processes: traditional acid etching leaves intentional and accidental marks on the printing plates – as life experiences do on individuals and communities; solar etching incorporates photographic techniques, while her monoprints can produce spontaneous and unplanned works. The incorporation of bookbinding materials underline Gujral’s desire to tell stories and emphasise the narrative qualities of her new works.
Creating works which are both autobiographical and universal, Gujral examines identity, displacement, notions of home and the human ability to survive trauma. She uses her position as an artist to give voice to, and generate discussion around, unspoken memories and disrupted relationships, many of which are considered too painful to talk about.
Suman Gujral (b.1962) completed an MA in Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire in 2018 and has since shown her work in both group and solo exhibitions across London and Hertfordshire. In 2020 Gujral was awarded a bursary from A-N and is currently mentored by Lewis Biggs, formerly director of Tate Liverpool and currently of Folkestone Triennial. She is part of the Curatorial Consultation Board at St Albans Museum + Gallery she has an upcoming solo show at Parndon Mill, Essex in Summer 2021.