The essence of Ritu Sood’s quietly powerful paintings is the intimacy and connection of the shared human experience. A winner of our competition ‘This Difference’, Ritu tells us about the vulnerability behind her work.

A Londoner of Indian heritage born in 1974, Ritu tells us that her strong sense of injustice and drive towards freedom led her to cast off the tight social grid of the culture she was born into, keeping only the beauty of it. After following her heart down the creative path of painting, despite being one of the few brown faces in the crowd, she studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art and then completed a Masters in Painting at the Slade School of Art.

In her works, Ritu seeks to understand how our bodies evoke emotion and how emotions go on to shape our appearances. At the age of twenty, Ritu suffered a traumatic collapse that changed her life, and continues to affect her to this day. The experience gave her profound insight into human suffering – a challenge and a gift all at once for an artist.

These experiences went into a series of large paintings collectively entitled ‘Sentiences’. They explore emotional states that we all share, such as pain, vulnerability, isolation and love. Ritu states, ‘It is known that traumatic episodes can uncover human connections and diminish the perceived differences between us. As the psychologist Peter A. Levine, who has helped people to overcome stressful episodes for decades said, “Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from the gods.”’

Full version of Ritu’s winning design

For our competition ‘This Difference’, Ritu has selected a detail from her painting titled ‘Contained’. It explores the duality of a moment of realisation – absolute vulnerability and the calm determination to survive, the personal speaking to the universal. She goes on to explain, ‘In previous exhibitions of ‘Contained’, conversations have begun, and experiences have been shared, it would be intriguing to see this large painting in the intimate format of a printed bookmark, and I would love to see how it travels into people’s lives and affects them personally.’

In a time of increasing intolerances of every kind, a rising mental health crisis and chronic post-pandemic isolation, human connection is essential. Ritu’s paintings act as ‘portals’ into seeing these points of connection, the sharing of life’s adversity, and its beauty, is essential for the re-finding of hope.

Discover Ritu’s winning design and read more about the competition here.