Saturday, September 15, 2012

Experimentation defines the spirit of this celebrated artist’s work

With her imagination, innovation and restless spirit, Anjolie Ela Menon continues to experiment with newer forms, materials and ideas. This tendency to try out things can be attributed to her adventurous spirit nurtured by a father in the army and a husband in the navy.

The celebrated artist recounts having moved house 30 times, at least! One of the foremost artists of her generation, she reminisces in an interview, “Our family lived almost all over (India) since my father was a surgeon in the Army. Whenever he would get a new house, we would all rush to check the number of trees it had. He would make tree houses and we would eat in them. My mother loved taking us out on picnics.”

Experimentation has always been at the heart of Anjolie Ela Menon’s art. She is among the first Indian artists to do kitsch and experiment with computer/digital painting. She has done sculptures from Murano crystal, a type of Italian glass. She has also tried out painted objects, ‘the opposite of installation art’, even while dabbling in oils.

It’s noteworthy that an itinerant life has resulted in some truly interesting aesthetic and practical choices for the innovative artist. For example, she happened to come across masonite, sheets of pressed wood fiber sometimes employed as packing material, which made her works more convenient to lug around, too. She has worked with several such offbeat materials, leading to painted works on found ‘junk’ objects like castaway old wooden furniture, cupboards, suitcases and trunks.

Anjolie Ela Menon has worked on several ambitious public art projects, including the most recent one at Mumbai’s Chattrapati Shivaji International Airport, a true tribute to this versatile artist’s spirit to experiment. Summing it up, she has once stated: "I was instrumental in bringing art down from its high pedestal. Most people approach it with a sense of awe. I wanted to break that. I was a karma-yogi as far as experimentation went. I never simply thought of the fruits of my labor."

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