“The Abel Contemporary Gallery in Stoughton is known for showing the work of accomplished regional and national artists, but exhibiting young, emerging, international artists doesn’t happen as often. And that’s only one of the reasons that Pranav Sood’s work stands out.
Sood, who earned his MFA at UW-Madison in May 2020, is a painter whose work “creates excitement,” said Theresa Abel, owner of the longtime Wisconsin art gallery.
Influenced by everything from Indian tapestries to Byzantine and Gothic art, Sood’s colorful geometric portraits are the centerpiece of his show titled “I am Absolutely Absolute,” showing at the Abel Contemporary Gallery at 524 E. Main St., Stoughton, through Sept. 4.
In August 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sood bought a one-way ticket from Madison to New York City and now lives in Brooklyn, where he has a studio. Abel will interview him in a “Virtual Artist Talk” held online at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, on the website abelcontemporary.com and on Facebook live.
“His audience here is still so interested in his art. There is something so special about it,” Abel said. “People feel he is still a Madisonian and are still so proud of his work.”
A native of Punjab, India, Sood originally studied the traditional regional style of Indian miniature painting and did his BFA studies at Chandigarh, Punjab University, Government College of Art before moving to Wisconsin for graduate school. Today, there are still traditional influences but also elements of Op Art in his work, where a precise use of color gives the illusion of movement.
“He is masterful with color and pattern, as well as giving every character or person in his work a story,” Abel said.
Sood was lured to UW, he told the State Journal in 2019, because of its high-quality faculty and, intriguingly, its snow and cold, a novelty for someone who grew up in a hot climate. While in Madison he was invited to exhibit in the prestigious Triennial exhibition of Wisconsin artists at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and made connections at the Abel Contemporary Gallery, which now represents the artist.
At UW-Madison, he reflected in a recent email, “I was close to many professors who were well renowned like Nancy Mladenoff, T.L. Solien, and Derrick Buisch who taught me several important things about art” — including the importance of good communication skills.
“As a painter, I think about art every day,” Sood said, “but it is also essential for me to express my vision verbally.”
His past two years in New York have been “amazing” with “lots of adventures,” Sood wrote. “My paintings reflect what I was going through during that time.”
In May, Sood married his girlfriend of 10 years, and she hopes to join him in New York soon.
Like the vivid colors in his paintings, Sood is an “honestly positive” person, Abel said.
“We really think his career is going places,” added Ann Orlowski, gallery director at Abel Contemporary Art. “I feel his work is really special and want to connect our collectors with his talent.”