This Chennai artist uses Indian goddesses to define feminism 

With art that represents the new-age Indian woman, Sam Madhu’s work is right out of a pop-art paradise  

Rehna Abdul Kareem Published :  19th January 2018 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  19th January 2018 06:00 AM
Kali in a sweatshirt

Kali in a sweatshirt

Fuschia pink pop-art resembling goddesses of Hindu mythology fused with a young Indian vibe along with an air of quirk and wildness — Brooklyn-based artist Sam Madhu’s art surpasses gender, mythology and sexuality all in one. Born and brought up in Chennai, artist and designer Samyukta Madhu, fondly known as Sam Madhu, has been drawing ever since she was a child. With art films, animation, anime, manga, and science fiction as her inspiration, the 23-year-old recently started working with Adidas to create powerful campaigns. Her style consists of bold line work, vibrant colours and controversial imagery.

Kali in a sweatshirt 

“Working with Adidas has introduced me to street culture,” says the graduate from Parsons School of Design, New York. “It made me respect fashion in a way that I hadn’t really understood before. I work as a digital creative there and produce campaigns for their social media channels.”  Sam’s representation of the new age woman has received a share of mixed responses with some appreciating it while others didn’t.

One of her artworks has the goddess Kali in an Adidas sweatshirt, which caused an uproar on Instagram, when several people commented on the picture saying it was ‘disgusting’. However, Sam stands her ground and calls her the epitome of Indian feminism.“Kali has a striking appearance and a fierce spirit. She is not dainty and gentle, she is a force to be reckoned with, yet she is feminine in every aspect. What better deity to pay respects to with regards to embracing Indian feminism?” 

The Gen Z colour

With 24,700 followers on Instagram, Sam’s social media is an explosion of pink which is the base for most of her art.  “I have always been in love with pink. I’ve never had another colour that spoke to me so deeply. Pink is the only colour that has a conversation with me. The rest of them stay silent – they are accessories.” The artist describes it as a future-forward colour that represents the intensity of the female spirit and the vulnerability of male emotions. “It is an equaliser, and this is why I believe that pink is the colour of our generation.” 


Sam mulls over what her dream project would be like and after much thought, she says, “To construct a digital 3D version of a futuristic city based on Mumbai. Let’s call it ‘Neo-Mumbai’, for now. There will be flying auto rickshaws, glowing pink neon dhaba signs and giant, ornate Kali statues all over the city. It will be an ode to futurism, feminism and South Asian influence,” says the young artist.

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