Artistic Excellence 2019 | Honorable Mention: Ekta Suri


Ekta Suri, Olamide, oil, 30 x 24.

Ekta Suri, Olamide, oil, 30 x 24.

HOUSTON, TX, artist Ekta Suri has always admired how her old friend from high school, Olamide, marches to the beat of her own drum. “Moved by her intentionality, her assuredness, her open-mindedness, I decided to paint her,” says Suri. “She’s immortalized as a portrait, a representation of the self-possessed woman.”

Suri, of course, is referring to her winning entry, OLAMIDE. Although she used a reference photograph of her friend to create her oil painting, she made some strategic adjustments. “The painting is a bit cooler tonally than the reference, so the overall composition is rendered more tranquil, allowing the viewer to better meditate on her features, on the colors,” explains Suri. “I really love the shadow cast on her cheek,” she adds, “though it was definitely the most difficult section to paint, what with all those overlapping undertones.”

Primarily a self-taught artist, Suri says her style is moving in the direction of magical realism. For Suri, that means “visually personifying the beauty and whimsy and uncertainty of life, primarily via the human form,” she says. The artist prefers to paint portraits from life, or from a combination of photographs and life painting, whenever possible. Lately she has also been interested in portraying her subjects outdoors, in natural light. “Painting and being immersed in the natural world—reminded that I am connected to a greater biosphere—makes me feel more open, more able to connect to my surroundings and to those around me,” notes Suri, whose future goals include completing an artist-in-residence program at a national park. “I’d love to further experiment with plein-air painting,” she says, “especially with my newfound reverence for the great outdoors.” Find Suri’s work at —Kim Agricola

This story was featured in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2019/January 2020 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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