ANJOLIE ELA MENON
"It is often easier to move sideways than up or down! My worst enemies are my admirers - trapping me within the now recognizable style of my own making."
Throughout her career as a painter, Anjolie Ela Menon has regularly re-envisioned her role as an artist. She notes that "dissatisfaction is the source of growth," encouraging an artist to "abandon known (and often acclaimed) ground for new territory". The body of work she has produced bears testament to her disdain for categorization. Menon's early canvases exhibit the varied influences of van Gogh, the European Expressionists, Modigliani, Amrita Sher-Gil, and M. F. Husain. Mainly portraits, these paintings were dominated by flat areas of thick bright color, with sharp outlines that were painted "with the vigour and brashness of extreme youth."
In 1960, at the age of twenty, Menon left India to study art in Europe. There, she was influenced by her exposure to the techniques of the medieval Christian artists. While in Paris, she began to experiment with a muted palette of translucent colors, which she created by the repeated application of oil paint in thin glazes. Painting on hardboard, Menon enhanced the finely textured surface of her paintings by burnishing the finished work with a soft dry brush, creating a glow reminiscent of medieval icons. As her style continued to evolve, Menon utilized the characteristics of early Christian art – including the frontal perspective, the averted head, and the slight body elongation – but took the female nude as a frequent subject. The result is a dynamic relationship of eroticism and melancholy. As can be seen in these two works, Menon developed her iconography of distance and loss in her later works through her thematic depiction of black crows, empty chairs, windows, and hidden figures. With paintings like these, she has established herself internationally as an artist of note.
Anjolie earned a degree in English from Delhi University and studied art in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts from 1961-62. She has had over thirty solos and several group shows. In addition to paintings in private and corporate collections, her works have been acquired by major museums in India and abroad. She is also well known for he murals and has represented India at the Algiers Biennale and in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Gallery ArtsIndia will be exhibiting a solo show of Anjolie's recent works in November of 2004.