THE ART OF SIONA BENJAMIN
BLUE LIKE ME
OCTOBER 15, 2009 – JANUARY 29, 2010
Siona Benjamin is a painter originally from the Bombay Jewish (Bene Israel) community; she now lives in the US.
Her rich, colorful paintings reflect the experience of being Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India.
By combining the imagery of her past with her present in America, she makes a mosaic inspired by both Indian miniature paintings and Sephardic icons.
This exhibition celebrates and reflects upon the intersections between cultural boundaries and personal identity, displaying vibrant canvases filled with numerous layers, characters and stories.
Flomenhaft Gallery featuring the Artist Siona Benjamin
Jewish Press Article
Video: Siona Benjamin works with a group of high school students at the SAR Academy, a modern Orthodox day school in New York City.
In my installation “Lilith in the New World”, the work of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and the drama of the Indian Amar Chitra Katha comic books serve as inspiration. The blond heroine in Lichtenstein’s paintings has been recast as a blue maiden. Based on Jewish Midrashic literature and legends, the character Lilith is identified as the first Eve. Lilith made a return in feminist history many a time as an iconic symbol that represents the oppressed, as a goddess, and as an example of female strength and mystery. Bringing her forth to today she becomes the woman targeted, the sacrificing mother, the mourning war widow, the brave woman soldier, the violated rape victim in war, the (other) blue woman.
Having grown up Jewish in predominantly Hindu and Muslim India, then having immigrated to America, I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived. Thus in my paintings, I employ the blue-skinned figures as a device to more provocatively raise issues about identity, immigration and the role of art in social change. In today’s politics we are always pitting “us against them” as we refuse to understand the other person’s point of view, which in turn spirals a series of misunderstandings and provokes the inevitable wars and violence.
Siona Benjamin 2008