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“Mesmerized by the sari-clad figure walking in the brilliance of a Delhi summer day, I was enamored by the flowing movements of her dress in the breeze. This woman walking down the driveway, elegant and graceful, the servant of my housecleaner, took my breath away.

Like birds of brilliant plumage from poor rural villages to urbane metropolises, women of the Indian subcontinent establish their presence with their clothing, even when they are covered up, especially when they are covered up, as the features and personality become secondary to the statement of their dress.

Inspired by the bold designs and colors worn by the women, the Veiled Presence paintings are my attempt to come to terms with the painful reality of living in a society separated by gender—India—for three years.

From Kashmir to Kerala, I painted images of women from behind or covered up as a balm to my everyday bruises from being a woman in a male-dominated society where women need their father’s or husband’s permission and signature for all documents.

The placement of the figures on the canvas helps them to break out of one of the boundaries of their confinement, showing them from the top of the head to the hips.

Mostly worn in the desert regions, veils are very practical to keep the dust out. Veils also keep prying eyes out, protecting the modesty of the women as they go out in public.”

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SEPTEMBER 2017: LUCILDA DASSARDO COOPER | VEILED PRESENCE