Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Passionate about expressing human concerns

Arpana Kaur’s paintings largely exhibit social, political and the environment concerns, the gender issues, the growing intolerance, rising violence and the condition of women. Her work, mostly figurative, draws its strength from an array of sources like her immediate realm, Kabir’s spiritual writings and the people around.

A recipient of the AIFACS award, this self-taught painter sought is one of India’s most celebrated and respected names in the domain of art. Born in 1954 in Delhi, her early art was influenced by her mother, an award-winning novelist-artist herself.

She sought inspiration from her mother’s novels and Punjabi folk literature, magnificent Indian folk-art motifs like the Pahari miniature tradition. Punjabi literature by writers like Amrita Pritam, Krishna Sobti and Shiv Batalvi has shaped her artistic perspective. When she ventured into the field of art, names like Anupam Sud and Mrinalini Mukherjee were also on the verge of earning respect and credibility for themselves.

Of course, she has come a long way. Since 1975, Arpana Caur has had 18 solos. Her paintings are in several prestigious collections including the NGMA, Delhi; Kust Museum, Dusseldorf; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Ethnographic Museum, Stockholm; Glenberra Museum, Japan; Singapore Museum of Modern Art, among others.

Profiling an interesting side to her personality, Soumya M Nair of The Deccan Herald had mentioned in an essay, “She is not keen to talk about the social causes that she supports. Her spirit as a quiet, strait-laced person and artist comes out when she remarks that she thrives on the sheer ecstasy of the process of painting. I’m most happy sculpting, painting or etching.”

In spite of such diverse influences, her subjects are firmly rooted in the tender realm of women, associating them with commonplace acts, daydreaming, combing hair etc. She reveals that her identity as an artist and as an individual is bound by her roots. She quips, “Our country is a mixture of the old and new. Both urban and rural India coexist in the strangest of ways...”

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