It began one fine morning after listening to BTS speech ‘Dear Class of 2020’. I started painting Kim Taehyung as the subject of my pop art. I usually paint imaginative surreal pop art faces, animals, birds and so many artworks of Frida Kahlo as well as I love her as a feminist and a queer icon. I rarely paint a living person. The first artwork of a living person I painted was my friend and fellow trans activist Sheethal Shyam. That was three years ago and the artwork is in a gallery is the USA.
My nieces are big fans of the BTS and it was they who introduced me to BTS music. I was drawn fully to their songs and was fascinated, their fluid world resembled mine. Then I began to know and study each one of the singers and their quotes and messages. All of them awesome, each had a personality of their own, a style of their own and they are all charismatic.
All of them challenge the toxic masculinity, and effortlessly play the gender fluidity and define the new age generation like what I, as a gender rights activist, have been vouching for.
BTS does more than entertain millions of people. They define the new generation with gender equality, breaking stereotypes on binary gender narrowness, on love, tolerance and diversity and inclusion. Through their songs, movement, fashion and style they challenge gender stereotypes that exist in the society.
I decided to paint V because he questions toxic masculinity through his fashion statements. Was there a moment when I thought should i really paint him? No. There was no questions within me. He needs to be honored and immortalised through my art and I wanted to honour him in my own way, in my own style.
At the 2018 Golden Disc Awards, V performed in a spectacular white outfit and looked pure magic. He wore a high-collared lace undershirt during the event. During several public events he does the same. BTS openly supports Lgbt rights and upon that they support artists and art projects.
V aka Kim Taehyung is the heart throb of millions of girls. His songs reflect the pop culture and the dilemma of the young generation globally, but behind all this is hope and a message of light. Like a Pied Piper, he drives young people through his music, now only to the mountains of bliss, happiness and immense hope for tomorrow.
In the painting, I have included V’s beautiful words in Korean and some powerful positive words in Chinese, I also thought of adding words in Spanish, Hindi, Tamil, Dutch and Swahili. Probably in my next artwork of Taehyung, I will.
As for now, I want to gift the artwork to V either when I go to South Korea or when BTS visit India. For all the lovely fans of him, to the army, I sell the artprints in various sizes. The funds I raise through the sale of the artwork, I use it for my activism for the Indian transgender community’s social and civil empowerment and rights.
I am trans and I am proud. I am excited about the future. What will I paint next? What colors? The composition? It all excites me. What will happen to the artwork? Will i ever be able to gift it to Taehyung or is it going to be in my archives? Or will I sell the original artwork to some diehard fan or an anonymous buyer. I don’t know.
I dream in rainbow colours and unicorns, pheonix and peacocks appear in my dream in my fairyland and V has wings in my dream. He is a fairy and an angel. Someday, I will also paint all my dreamscapes.
– Kalki Subramaniam –