Page 12 - Anjolie Ela Menon - Inner Vision
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photographs mimic the look of paintings, the       and until the end of the 1960s, there was a marked                     Used as both an ‘objet trouvé’ and a recurring      wooden frames used in houses to frame pictures.
         paintings seem like photographs. The massive       difference  in  the  way  the  artist  treated  her                    motif in her paintings, the window holds great      In Menon’s case, they would house her paintings.
         project took over two years to complete.           paintings. They were dominated by a blue mist                          significance  for  the  artist.  While  the  discovery  of   Many of her paintings would feature women
         Unfortunately, photographer Beeche passed away     created by layering translucent shades of colour.                      using the window as part of a mixed media work      depicted  trapped  within  these  enclosed  spaces,
         after her battle with cancer before the mural was   The nudes of this time and the beginning of the                       was accidental, this has become a signature for     onlookers to the outside world. Naukhanas are
         unveiled.                                          1970s - a complete contrast from what she would                        Menon, with the subjects being spotted within the   compartmented windows split into nine grids. The
                                                            create later on in life - were serene and genial                       frame of the window staring out into the world.     work ‘Kellengode’ from 1986, inspired by the small
         After a short span of time spent living in England,   looking. The settings were often Utopian gardens,                   ‘Window’  from  the  year  1982  depicts  a  woman   town of Kerala she visited on her travels, is an
         the artist returned again to India in 1966 when she   and the women were sensuous yet innocent. She                       peering out of its panels, with a bird perched in one   important piece from this time.
         was commissioned to do a portrait for Indira       painted her translation of the Bangladesh war in                       of its panes. The window in her works helps
         Gandhi which, much like the artist herself, was    1971 in the form of six paintings, all depicting skulls                audiences peek into the myriad lives that she       Although beautiful in its result, the detailed
         unconventional, to say the least. Her  second      and  bones  with  flowers  sprouting  from  them.                       paints - the sex workers of Kamathipura being       ornateness did not suit the artist and was quickly
         rendition of Indira Gandhi was executed by the     These symbolised a gruesome rebirth for the                            some of them.                                       abandoned for a unique take on her works. Menon
         artist only a month before her assassination. The   country after much bloodshed and loss.                                                                                    would deconstruct her paintings into grid-like
         then Prime Minister, seen with hollow eyes, was                                                                           This also led her to work with jharokhas and        structures, cutting them up only to reconstruct
         depicted behind a window with shattered panes.     The mid-1970s brought with it a large exhibition at                    naukhanas. Jharokhas, a form of jutting stone       them as she saw fit. This visual play on the artwork
                                                            Chemould Gallery in 1976 that saw the artist come                      windows and concealed balconies often seen in       would give a fresh, innovative perspective unlike
         The portrait is one of the foundations of Anjolie’s   into her own. The colour palette became bolder,                     palaces in Rajasthan, went on to inspire decorative   any other she had done before.
         works, with over 200 portraits to her name. She    and so did the nudes she painted. A patina
         began portraiture even in school, making a portrait   inspired by Renaissance paintings achieved
         of her mother Eunice, who passed soon after. Her   through a technique unique to her was evident in
         works documented people she came upon during       all her works at this cathartic showing. While her
         her travels through the world, mythological figures,   paintings remained  sensual,  the  gloom  too, was
         public figures, and members of her family. These    noticeable in the subjects ranging from ropes and
         works, evolving through her illustrious career, still   dilapidated chairs to crows and lizards. With the
         remain with a common theme of melancholy and       loss of her father in the same year, one could
         explore the inner workings of the subject.         notice the appearance of melancholic empty
                                                            chairs in her works.
         Her various portraits over time chronicle her
         evolution as an artist, enmeshing her personal     The chairs would become a recurring motif for
         experiences,  techniques   she’s  learnt  and      Anjolie Menon, seeming to crop up in both
         influences  she’s  gathered  over  time.  A  vast   paintings and the objet trouvé art that she
         majority of the works amalgamate the East and      showcased in the future. In her paintings of the
         the West, bringing together, Western learnings with   object, the theme of disquiet from a missing entity
         Indian aesthetics.                                 is evident. Her chair paintings bring with them the
                                                            sense of having been previously occupied by
         1966 was also a year of several important life     someone who has only recently left the frame. The
         events for Menon as her second son, Rajaraja, was   subject  matter  can  often  be  seen  draped  by  a
         born, and in quick succession, her grandmother     blanket, surrounded by other objects that have
         passed. The loss of her grandmother Ethel,         become a mainstay in Menon’s paintings, like
         someone who had been crucial in bringing her up    crows and kites. The ability to interpret these
         after the passing of Menon’s mother, was a huge    works  as  the  audience  sees  fit  allows  for  the
         blow. Motherhood has played a profound role in     paintings to allude to stories beyond just the
         the artist’s oeuvre, softening her works over time   frame. Another interpretation of the chair that she
         as she experienced motherhood. Mothers often       focuses  on  is  the  dilapidated  chair,  nostalgic  for
         show up as protagonists in eminent series.         objects that lay forgotten in corners of our house.
                                                            Many of these paintings are presented within
         Anjolie  Menon  then  moved  again,  with  her     dreamscapes, adding to  the  desolation of the
         husband being posted to Vladivostok in the Soviet   lonely chair. The mid-1970s also saw her focus her
         Union between 1967 and 1969. Despite the           attention on windows not only as part of her
         stringent curtailment on artists and their work, she   paintings but also using real window frames, using
         was allowed to exhibit her works in an exhibition   them to frame her subjects seen within peering
         that, while not heavily advertised, was received   outward. She would sometimes fragment the
         with much awe and appreciation. During this time   perspective into several parts.
                                                                                                                                   Google image : Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine March 2016

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