Tejswini Narayan Sonawane lives and works in Solapur, IN


Tejswini Narayan Sonawane is a printmaker whose woodcuts and etchings and unique subject matter have eclipsed the great works of the Bengal School. Superimposing images of animals onto self-portraits, the artist etches into the wood to create deep forms of embrace that are metaphors of our own emotional states. Cats and birds emote with ease; they do not hide behind masks of deceit, nor do they conceal their pain, anger, or affection. While love may seem temporal among animals and their memory finite, they love unconditionally and only fight for primal needs like food, territory, and reproduction. In contrast, humans erect institutions like religion and nation states to obscure these primal fears and desires.


Tejswini Narayan Sonawane, A Migrant – III, 2018, etching on paper, 25,4 × 33 cm © Tejswini Narayan Sonawane

The Unbearable (2019) is a crowded portrait of two people. Without recourse to distractions like work, friends, and routines, living with spouses and families became unbearable during the pandemic. Social media engulfed our lives with reminders of our wretched selves, imprisoned in our homes. The fifteenth-century Indian poet Kabir wrote that our bodies are heaps of sins and mistakes; but love in recent times has become a performative practice that uses rituals and theatrical acts to negate our failures and disappointments. We may lighten our emotional baggage with song and dance, marriage traditions, and other festive moments, but what about our expectations of the other? Sonawane’s prints are acts of forgiveness, allowing us catharsis and acceptance of who we are, so that we can begin to love ourselves before attempting to love others. Buddhist tales about animals remind us as humans of our virtues and failings; Sonawane revisits these traditions to narrate stories of human folly but also hope and renewal.

Prabhakar Kamble


The Image Multiplied, 2022, Art Heritage, New Delhi (IN)

This is why we cannot title an exhibition after Love?, 2021/22, Gallery Art & Soul, Mumbai (IN)

The Wind, 2020, Gangneung Arts Center, Gangneung (KR)

61st National Exhibition of Art, 2019, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (IN)

Working Practices: a collaboration with Clark House Initiative, 2018, The Showroom, London (UK)