Page 6 - Anjolie Ela Menon - Inner Vision
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and discipline. Anjolie is an artist who has       details. The painting has rich colours and depth                       window  frames  within  which  she  creates  a      and showed them at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.
         succeeded in preserving the authentic experience   especially on the skin of faces and bodies.                            painting  with  small  blocks.  These  fit  into  each
         of her youth. Like a child she indulges in play,                                                                          window but together look like a painting itself.  She   While working on her book, Anjolie saw images of
         however almost making fun of her existential       Not only does the painting truthfully represent the                    uses her painterly skills to create an undulated    her own work on the computer and one after
         anxieties.  Passionate  and   audacious,  she      casual and rustic image of the common folk but                         vision, in such a way that the paintings and        another, the images came alive. From here, Anjolie
         recreates—in her own space and on her own          also conveys that modern Western culture has                           jharokhas are in a perfect balance. The paintings   got the idea of creating digital works -
         terms—the lost world of childhood. Like a true     become a part of Indian life.                                          in the jharokhas are intimate domestic scenes and   Pentimentos - where she juxtaposed images and
         Bohemian, she paints with her whole soul,                                                                                 interior composition with women behind torn         created a series of new works, which she partly
         mobilising the full power of her imagination. She   She focuses on the traditional aspects of formal                      curtains with partly exposed breasts, a child, a    painted.
         penetrates the secret recesses of memory where     portraiture and even moreso on the development                         parrot, a goat, a crow, a kite and various other
         the experiences and traditions of childhood await   of  her  technique.  Women  in  domestic,  ill-defined                 objects that compose an ordinary household. Not
         the alchemical process that will bring them to the   settings, shown doing mundane jobs, the working                      only does the jharokha painting truthfully          Glass Sculpture

         surface of her work, at the chosen moment, as a    class, crochet  table cloths, torn  curtains, goats                    represent the casual and rustic images of the       Working with master craftsmen in Murano (Italy),
         fresh reality. Memories are never lost: they simply   and  the  omnipresent  crow  in  different  settings                Indian  masses,  but  also  conveys  Anjolie's      Anjolie created a range of chic glass sculptures
         lie dormant ready to be put to use, when required,   have become recurring subjects. There is a blend                     fondness for depicting common people in her         that had religious icons, Shivlings, Ganeshas,
         and to enter into the creative moment.             of spontaneity and intimacy in her portraiture that                    works. She says the jharokhas must have life and    Islamic calligraphy, Christian icons and a range of
                                                            make the works engaging.                                               vitality in them. It must have certain pathos and   bowls with Hindu scripture. The exhibition was
         Anjolie’s break with the canvas is not a deliberate                                                                       warmth. The physical scale echoes the emotional     called Sacred Prism.
         attempt to reject art, but, as with every          Sometimes, the women’s eyes are deviating from                         variety through bold compositions, appearances
         revolutionary advance, a rebellion against the     the audience staring at the ground, showing her                        and a manifestation of Anjolie's unnerving artistic   Anjolie was the first Indian artist of her generation
         aesthetic status quo. Anjolie does not repudiate   nervous, shy and self-protected mentality. Apart                       supremacy. The artist focuses most of her           to work in the Kitsch genre. She wanted to bring
         tradition, she simply cuts through it. Tradition for   from  the  deception  of  the  figure’s  characters,  it            attention on painting the eyes as she aspires for   calendar art into the mainstream and she created
         her is a storehouse of material waiting to be used,   may be an implicit representation of her poverty.                   the   audience    to   experience   a    silent     an exhibition where she used gold embossed
         but the manner in which it will be used will be    Despite that there is a sense of calmness and ease                     communication with her subjects. The gaze that      printing which she cut out from her Diwali cards.
         different.                                         in her eyes. More than just being splendid in the                      occurs between the audience and the portraits       The exhibition was called Gods and Others and
                                                            comparison of colours, brush strokes, figures and                       conjures a vagueness whether the audience is the    was created in the Raja Ravi Varma style. She
         Anjolie’s portraiture of women is unique and       clothing, Anjolie touches the spirits of the figures                    viewer or the ones being viewed.                    decorated her subjects with kitsch elements and
         striking. She is truly a painter of women,         and   transfers  the   abstract  emotions   to                                                                             also used gold paint and foil.
         alternately  gracious and  moving,  knowing  and   coordinating concrete elements and rediscovers                         After her husband retired, they settled down in
         simple, and always with an exquisite visual        the invaluable worth of humanity and life.                             Delhi in Nizammudin and she set up her studio in    The art world is not for the faint hearted. Anjolie
         sensibility. Not only does she give a marvellous                                                                          the Nizammudin Basti. The imagery of the Basti      proved she could excel with decency and the rare
         sense of the physique, the delicate relief and     Anjolie’s nudes are warmer in palette and                              keeps coming into her work. Goats, old men, parrot   quality of unshakable integrity. She has had the
         dazzling tones of young  complexities, she also    treatment. Atmosphere and form are realised                            sellers, the derelict surroundings and the people of   attention of top collectors and gained their
         gives a sense of the soul, all women’s inner       through a softening of lines and tonal modelling,                      Basti become her subjects.                          confidence by being a consummate professional.
         musicality and bewitching mystery. Her figures are   ultimately creating an image of the female body                                                                           She is strong but never forceful and has stood her
         not frozen over by layers of paint - they are      that is naturalistic, graceful and sensuous. Once                      Anjolie has worked in a wide variety of mediums     ground and created art that very few artists from
         animated and vivacious; singing out in a melody of   she achieves this, she deliberately downplays the                    starting with jewellery. In the style and manner of   her generation have ventured into. She is an
         colours, bright tones and all the vibrations of light.  sensuousness by covering up the breast with a                     miniature painters, Anjolie creates small miniature   impeccable perfectionist as well as a modest and
                                                            thin muslin dupatta and adding other elements                          portraits of 1 inch x 1 inch of women that she uses   forgiving  friend. The  Warhol-ian red  lipstick and
         Anjolie’s brush works like the scalpel of a surgeon,   such as tables, chairs, kites, crows, goats etc.                   as pendants with precious and semi-precious         the ever present twinkle in her eyes is as
         gently crafting the ideal face she imagines. The                                                                          stones, painted in deep colours with gold. These    irresistible as her quick and generous smile. She is
         resulting image is one that conforms in the        Anjolie  also  created  a  significant  amount  of                      pendants are unique to Anjolie and no other artist   an amazing cook, and sometimes I tease her about
         extreme to the beauty standards of Indian women.   landscapes. Her husband  who  was  in  the  Navy                       of her generation has ventured into this kind of    whether she is a better cook or better painter. She
         She has elongated yet slim arms, a slender waist   was transferred to various naval bases all over                        creativity.                                         is also an amazing packer, having moved house
         with voluptuous breasts. Her facial features are   India. They lived by the sea and often the table,                                                                          over 30 times during her husband’s Navy tenure.
         familiar but somehow cannot be placed in context.   chairs and fabrics that were left out to dry, kites in                While in Chennai, Anjolie was very keen to start    Above all she is a great human being, someone
         She is portrayed in a highly provocative and       the distant horizons and crows on the table,                           painting.  Unfortunately  she  did  not  find  any   one can go to for advice on the most difficult of
         appealing manner with captivating eyes, sensual    created a landscape by the sea which she                               canvas or board and a friend suggested that she     situations.  I  have  known  Anjolie  for  over  five
         lips and porcelain skin that are rendered with     reproduced. It was from here that her fascination                      paint a cupboard, which she did and a new genre     decades and she has truly been an amazing
         considerable realism and artifice.                  for chairs began and empty chairs kept coming                          was born. So fascinated was Anjolie with the result   person. Our friendship has been pure, lasting and
                                                            back into her paintings.                                               of the paint on the cupboard that she went to the   true.
         Through her adept and natural brush strokes, we                                                                           second hand furniture market and picked up all
         can see Anjolie’s accurate portrayal of the figure’s   Anjolie’s jharokhas are a unique combination of                     kinds of tables, chairs, cupboards  and other
         characteristics without excess description of      paintings and found objects. She uses carved old                       objects. She painted about fifty of these objects

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