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Art & Design - Product of the Week

Product of the Week: “Tears of Milk” by Ketna Patel

Our Fine Art & Antiques expert takes a look at Ketna Patel's “Tears of Milk”, the winner of the 2002 Juror’s Choice Award at the prestigious Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards.

Ketna Patel is known throughout the art world for her tasteful evocations of emotions and portrayals of current events through mixed media. The award-winning “Tears of Milk”, a spectacular two-metres-squared pop-art canvas, is an exquisite example of Patel's talents and her astute understanding of 21st century Asian culture.

tears of milk ketna patel

The longer you look at “Tears of Milk” the more themes and stories start to emerge, all of which contribute to the collective consciousness of modern Asian society. The most prominent theme is the clash of the Western world with rural Asia. Patel reveals this via a hand and face, representing the individual, covered with and surrounded by a skilfully interwoven mixed bag of symbols, such as the words “MTV” and “American Drim”, alongside scenes typical of rural and suburban Asian communities, like the street food cart or the birds eating spilled grain.

tears of milk ketna patel

The colour palette used in "Tears of Milk" is equally deliberate. In Patel’s own words it's a mix of “Attention-grabbing hot reds, bamboo greens, neon blues, tinsel yellow, gaudy pink, gutter blues,” which are all strong, vibrant colours that collide almost as harshly as the foreign cultures.

The piece’s title refers to the white drips that trickle down from the figure's eyes; according to Patel, “When there is little water in the body, or when the despair or happiness is not acute enough, we too have milk tears. These spill over, and stain our faces and clothes with invisible but concrete impressions, and in these moments, we age.”


tears of milk ketna patel

In 2002, Patel was awarded the Juror’s Choice award at the ASEAN Art awards. The ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Arts Awards was set up by English painter Philip Morris in 1994 and is now the most prestigious arts competition in the region. Patel’s work has since been featured in many magazines, online publications and fashion labels. 

tears of milk ketna patel

To read more about Ketna Patel, see more of her works, and find out about upcoming events and exhibitions, visit her website.

For more information and pictures of this featured work, visit our Ketna Patel "Tears of Milk" page.