Page 17 - Anjolie Ela Menon - Inner Vision
P. 17

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

   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22