The Creative Journey of Artist Anjolie Ela Menon

Through the Patina by Anjolie Ela Menon
Through the Patina by Anjolie Ela Menon

Washington, DC, October 6, 2010 - Asia Society Washington and the Embassy of India co-hosted renowned, contemporary Indian painter Anjolie Ela Menon. Sharing a room full of art admirers, collectors, and illustrations of her most famous paintings, Menon spoke about the inspirations behind each work. Her collection of work can be found in the recent book titled, Anjolie Ela Menon: Through the Patina, a pictorial biography of her work.

Menon described her visit to the United States as sort of a homecoming, since her first exhibition in the country was held at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC in 1980. She expressed sincere gratitude toward the Vadhera Gallery, official publishers of her biography, for sorting through hundreds of images for the book. Following, a spectacular slideshow of 85 of her paintings were displayed. Menon described the original subjects and the inspiration behind painting each of them. The portraits ranged from a painting of her friend created when she was only 17-years-old, to paintings inspired by old sepia pictures of her husband’s family.

Menon also had the opportunity to take an exclusive peek into the personal lives of many of India’s renowned public figures, for instance, world famous Indian musician and sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar. Similarly, she has documented India’s first and only woman prime minister Indira Gandhi. Getting to know them personally influenced how their images shaped up, such as a firm jaw line for Gandhi, which Anjolie hoped would show the confidence that she saw in her, accompanied by eyes which she hoped would depict her immense compassion.

Captivated by the wide array of slides, the audience was entertained by Menon's anecdotes that accompanied them. She said that inspiration for a piece of art can come from the most unnatural things and circumstances, just as hers came from an old medical book describing the human anatomy. This inspired her to paint a host of paintings depicting human forms and their anatomy, titled the Open Hearts Series. She has experimented with different kinds of paintings, such as a portrait within a portrait, nudes, the window series, and painting junk furniture among others.

When asked whether political happenings around the world influenced her paintings, she said that as much as events around at times affected her emotions, she was not much of a didactic painter who liked to profess through her art.

Reported by Mitali Pradhan