Page 16 - Anjolie Ela Menon - Inner Vision
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Indian artists would later go on to experiment with   artist’s talents as a colourist and her skill for                   ‘Sacred Prism II’. He is known to have said about   Ganesh; Yashoda-Krishna, Jesus-Mary, etc. The
         kitsch, inspired by this very exhibition, taking the   blending Western techniques with Eastern                           her work - “I shall always cherish the creative     place  of  the  Divine Mother has  always  been
         genre forward.                                     inspirations. In ‘Sacred Prism I’ and ‘Sacred Prism                    process I shared with Anjolie. She possesses, apart   important throughout history and it’s doubly
                                                            II’,  exhibited  in the  1990s,  the  glass  sculptures                from her tremendous talent, a humility and purity   important in the context of what’s happening
         “I have tried to demolish the barriers between high   featured an infant Jesus, a young Krishna and                       of intent that I could relate with. I am deeply     today in India. There’s a dichotomy in the baffling
         and low art by engaging with the visual matrix of   several iterations of Lord Ganesha. These                             thankful for this project which allowed me to       events that have taken place in the recent past. On
         our own times. The ubiquitous religious images     sculptures would be created in splendid jewel                          explore further the spirituality in arts and the art in   one hand we are the country that worships the
         available in the local bazaar or the bizarre       tones,  shaped  in  flowing  shapes  emulating  lava.                   prayers."                                           Devi the most, whether it is Saraswati, Durga or
         exaggerations in both content and style seen in    The added three-dimensional aspect allowed by                                                                              Mary; yet look at the way women are being treated
         film posters or political cut-outs, with the addition   these sculptures helped Menon achieve a different                  She has also treated members of her family as       today.  So there doesn’t  seem to  be  a coherent
         of  traditional  gold  embellishment  from Tanjore   kind of play with light, differing from what she is                  subjects for her Murano glass sculptures. Many of   connection  between  belief  and  practice;  women
         painting, all form grist for the mill of contemporary   used to creating with her work with paints. Besides               her sculptures too are embedded with a script,      are  definitely  treated  as  lesser  beings.  If  the
         art practice. Added to this is the fact that these   the figural sculptures, she has also worked in the                    some  with  Ram  and  others  with  Islamic         women of our myths find their rightful place, we
         sources are specifically indigenous to us, opening  abstract, depicting icons of Hindu mythology, such                     calligraphy, meditative in their repetition. Previous   further the interests of all women. But these
                                                                                                                                   muses such as the Madonna and Christ also           paintings also show a connection to the past that
                                                                                                                                   served as inspiration for various sculptures.       have led to the present situation. For instance, in
                                                                                                                                   ‘Sacred Prism III’ was an exhibition of a collection   Parvati and Ganesh, Parvati has just experienced
                                                                                                                                   of 80 such sculptures created alongside da Ros in   a terrible event—Shiva cutting the head of her
                                                                                                                                   1999 and 2001. These were exhibited in important    baby. But her expression remains one of
                                                                                                                                   galleries and museums, including the Italian        acceptance. This acceptance has dominated our
                                                                                                                                   Cultural  Centre  in  New  Delhi  and the  National   discourse on gender for more than a thousand
                                                                                                                                   Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai.                    years. However we see that now; finally, we have
                                                                                                                                                                                       begun to rebel against that.”
                                                                                                                                   Her paintings saw the introduction of tattooed
                                                                                                                                   sadhu-esque subjects and serpent motifs. The        The paintings showcased the inner power that lies
                                                                                                                                   sadhu-like figures would often be embedded with      within  women,  taking  a step  away  from  the
                                                                                                                                   an amalgamation of Ram and Rahim, interweaved       western  view  of  feminism.  Many  of  the  mothers
                                                                                                                                   together - a commentary on the growing religious    painted in this series were inspired by the women
                                                                                                                                   tensions  in  the  country.  She  was  influenced  by   she spotted in the Nizammudin Basti.
                                                                                                                                   Hindu mythology during this time as well,
                                                                                                                                   incorporating them into her works in her own style.  The Vrindavan series was also executed during
                                                                                                                                                                                       this  time,  influenced  by  her  travel  to  the  city  to
                                                                                                                                   In the year 2000, the artist was conferred with the   immerse  her  friend’s ashes.  Witnessing  young
                                                                                                                                   Padma Shri by the Government of India. She then     women here who had renounced worldly
                                                                                                                                   became the first visual artist to be nominated to be   possessions to take up the life of a sadhvi, she was
                                                                                                                                   on the board of trustees of the Indira Gandhi       moved  by  the  act  of  renunciation  in  a  heavily
                                                                                                                                   National Centre for the Arts. 2002 saw a large      materialistic world. The artist was also similarly
                                                                                                                                   retrospective  of  her  works  being held  at  the   inspired by pilgrimages and the throngs of people,
                                                                                                                                   National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, travelling   uniting in devotion. Her work Yatra, a triptych,
                                                                                                                                   to  Lalit  Kala  Akademi in  Delhi  and Chitrakala   pays homage to the massive annual pilgrimage of
                                                                                                                                   Parishath in Bengaluru.                             kavadiyas to the river Ganga. This was acquired by
                                                                                                                                                                                       the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco in
                                                                                                                                   Her Divine Mothers series came in the mid-2010s,    California in 2006. Her pastoral series is inspired
                                                                                                                                   where she depicted the mothers of holy deities like   by the studio she works out of in Nizammudin and
                                                                                                                                   Krishna and Jesus. This, for the artist, was a      the sights surrounding it. The rural surroundings,
         Google image : Alchetron —  Looking Out of a Window, The Magician Story, Acolyte                                          commentary on the irony of the treatment of         especially the goat herders and their goats have
                                                                                                                                   women in her home country despite their             been a constant source of inspiration for Anjolie
         up new vistas,” the artist said in the book ‘Women   as the Shivalingam and the goddess Kali through                      deification  in  mythology.  In  conversation  with   during her career. The Goat and Shepherd series is
         Who Dared’ edited by Ritu Menon. Her experiments   bold shapes and colours alone. The glass works of                      Harmony about the series, she has said, “I have     evidence of this, executed in the memory of the
         with Murano  glass sculptures too began during     the artist do not solely stand as proof of her skill in                always engaged with the subject of parent and       days before the pandemic struck. She even draws
         this time with her visiting the namesake island in   different  mediums  but  also  her  expression  of                   child and this led to the Divine Mother series—for   parallels between the bearded faces of the goat
         Italy several times to work. Here, she worked with   spirituality and emotion. She also worked                            all the Gods that are idolised there are the mothers   herders she paints and the protagonists in
         masters in the art of Venetian glassmaking. Thus   alongside a master in glass work - Antonio da Ros,                     who share in their divinity. I think it is wonderful   Byzantine art. Also featured in the series are
         came the ‘Sacred Prism’ series, showing off  the   with whom the collaboration resulted in                                material for an artist. I’ve done Parvati and       women who clutch their children close, again a

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