Priya Suneel is a talented visual artist with a wide range of skills, clearly evidenced in the scope and diversity of her extensive body of work. Primarily working in 2D, Priya’s practice incorporates painting, mixed media and drawing. She includes a wide range of subject matter, infused with the world cultures of London, India, Nepal and Nigeria that she knows so well. Colour is a hallmark of Priya’s artwork and she cites many sources of inspiration including Matisse and Gauguin. Her technical competencies, combined with an intelligent sensitivity in her approach to the story she is telling and the materials she employs, result in imaginative interpretations with engaging narratives and dynamic compositions.
Priya’s accomplished portraits and figurative works, whether painted in oil, acrylic or watercolour, are identified by dramatic imagery and a bold confident use of colour. Her evocative street scenes are perceptive and atmospheric. Her beautifully crafted mixed media work sings with vitality and is distinctive in the use of vibrant fabrics inspired by the colours and patterns of Nigeria. These strikingly colourful works appeal not only because of their decorative qualities but are highly articulate in form and technique, displaying a lucid architectural quality, simultaneously semi-abstract and figurative. In conclusion a rich mix of imaginative, inventive and intelligent artwork.
Visual Artist and Curator
Priya Suneel's ability to take found objects and turn them into a recognisable form shows her skill as an artist, aesthetic sensibility and unique perspective. Take, for example, her shower- head paper sculptures: staring unapologetically at the viewer, these works transport one into a fashion forward street, almost as though the journey is taking place along the roads of Milan or Paris.
Her art also stands out for its compositions with paper, textile and mixed media. Her deep understanding of colour and its pairings comes through in these works; she is able to take different pieces of textile from varied sources and place them side by side in what comes together as an assembled amalgamation.
Some of these mixed media studies are done on flat surfaces, yet bring to life a whimsical scene of daily life. They almost feel as if they belong in an illustrated novel, part of some deeper mystery of jumbled shapes.
Suneel’s unwavering hand is not to be forgotten even in her acrylic and watercolour studies, showing great observation and attention to people and environments that surround her. As an artist, she manages to create a dialogue between viewer and space, thus weaving a narrative of artistic perspective that is always a pleasure to engage with.
Art Historian | Art Educator
MA Art Business,
Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.
A brief journey through Priya Suneel's style, materials and thematic highlights.
Priya Suneel is a prolific, meticulous and visionary artist. I got to know her as a colleague in the field of art during her stint in Lagos, Nigeria. Just as in other creative fields, the creator's art impacts one first before the artist is fully known and understood.
Priya's creative experience crisscrosses countries and continents, making her oeuvre a rich collage of cultural influences. Priya adapted, adopted and tapped into the aesthetic philosophies of her host countries in the cause of her life's odyssey and artistic traverse.
It is important we reflect that in today's liberalized art scene in Nigeria, art practice finds itself sometimes in the hands of unschooled practitioners commonly referred to as self-taughts, where visual art graduates seem almost an endangered species to come by in the area of consistent studio engagement and gallery presence. Priya Suneel however has chosen the noble path of art professionalism backed by a degree in Fine Arts, with constant practice, continuous experimentation and a number of commercially successful exhibitions across continents.
The intricately and colorfully designed African fabric (popularly known as 'ankara' and worn by a sizeable number of people in Nigeria) takes a special place in her design scheme. Her Africanist motifs and love for the patterned fabrics (as means of a 'palette') are the creative inspiration she likely imbibed during her days in Lagos, Nigeria.
Hers is a case of an experimental, design-driven artist with whom art lovers are well pleased. Her ankara portrait collages bear a bit of an artistic semblance with another well-traveled internationalist – Gary Stephens. We can also relate her style with modernism and pop culture (something in the ranks of the Henri Matisse and Andy Warhols of this world).
Priya Suneel's thematic preoccupations are symbiotically woven around the themes of family, homestead, domestic affairs and most importantly - the concept of womanhood.
Her recent body of works provides us with a rich array of artistic exaltation of the female gender. Busts 1 and 2 appear like a modern adaptation of the classical portrait of Queen Nefertiti. Symbolically, her female figures project womanhood as the face of beauty and diligence.
In conclusion, I am very optimistic that these visual lyrics of Priya Suneel would strike a positive chord in us and we would begin to once again give all needed prominence to respecting our women who most often put the home in order. Home in this instance is not just about the confines within structural walls of the house. ‘Home’ in this case refers to the family – for family is the smallest but most important unit of the society.
Kolawole K. Olojo-Kosoko
(Vice Chairman Society of Nigerian Artists. Lagos State Chapter)
Faculty, Department of Art & Industrial Design
Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu,