Supported by Art Musings
Anjolie Ela Menon’s work defies categorization with the constant changes her oeuvre has undergone over the last six decades. Her work reflects the enormous changes of the different phases of her life and as she has grown older “the narcissism of the early years has been transformed into a nostalgia for the past”. Menon is back to Mumbai after a gap of almost 10 years and her current work returns to some of her favoured motifs. She spoke about her work, influences and what keeps her going.
Anjolie Ela Menon was born in Burnpur, West Bengal in 1940. She studied Literature at New Delhi before studying at the J J School of Art in Bombay which she left midway to study in Europe. She studied on a scholarship at Atelier Fresque, Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Art, Paris from 1959-61.
She was drawn to European art and her works reflect this. The translucent glazes inspired by medieval Christian Art. She first prepares the masonite surface by applying thin layers of paint after which she scrapes it and repaints on top with translucent colours to arrive at a smooth polished surface. These deep jewel tones with a slight texture helps to create the haunting quality of her gloomy, still, longitudinal, dark eyed figures. She has constantly re-envisioned her role as an artist right from the early oils on masonite to her murals, mixed media works and sculptures and resisted being categorized by a certain style.
The female nude has been a frequent subject as also the thematic iconography of distance and loss that she developed through her images of crows, empty chairs, semi hidden figures. Her works are deeply sentimental, moving, feminine still instantly attractive. She has an entire series of works painted on wooden doors, trunks and window panels that she explored and sourced.
She has participated in a number of exhibitions such as, ‘Kalpana: Figurative Art in India’, presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) at Aicon Gallery, London, in 2009; ‘Mapping Memories – 2, Painted Travelogues of Bali and Burma’ at Gallery Threshold, New Delhi, in 2008; and ‘Kitsch Kitsch Hota Hai’ at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, in 2001. In 2000, she received the Padma Shri from the Government of India.
Menon lives and works in New Delhi.