Portrait of the Artist

Sarbani Ghosh

Dream State Landscapes

By Noelani Kirschner | October 7, 2019
Mourning Hymn at Dusk, 2019, Acrylic, watercolor, and collage on panel, 8 x 10 x 1 inch
Mourning Hymn at Dusk, 2019, Acrylic, watercolor, and collage on panel, 8 x 10 x 1 inch

Sarbani Ghosh received her MFA from Pratt Institute, where she studied portraiture before shifting her focus to the Kantian sublime, which posits nature as an all-powerful force. “While I was exploring all the mediums, I kept coming back to landscape,” she said. “I was trying to achieve some higher meaning in my portraits, but because of how complicated the history of portraiture is, there was much more baggage with the genre than with landscape.”

  • Dream State, Stumbling, 2019, Acrylic, watercolor, and collage on panel, 9 x 12 x 1 inch

Her works evoke the uncanny, a hallmark of the Surrealist movement of the 1930s. But Ghosh draws most of her inspiration the Romantic movement in 19th-century classical music. The drama and the emotion of those works guide her artistic choices, from the subject of her work to her processes. Onto the panel board, Ghosh begins with collaged photographs of a landscape. After pasting cutouts to the substrate, she lets the composition guide the color palette of the work. She mixes vibrant acrylics with subtle watercolors to produce swirls and geometric angles. “I try to complicate the meaning between collage and painting,” she said. “Sometimes, an element looks like it was collaged photography, but it was actually painting—and vice versa.” But the texture of the paint, built almost to sculptural effect, is where the magic happens. “I am trying to move past representative landscape,” she said. “I want to use the collage to ground the work, but I want to transcend the genre.”

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