Page 13 - 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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