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Since the post independence period, and especially in the last few decades, women artists in India have been at the forefront of new movements in art, including unusual art installations and performance art.
Art enhances one’s aesthetic sense and creative imagination. It is also an activity through which one can transfuse their own emotions to others. Not only by visually entertaining viewers, art has played a vital role in protesting against injustice, many times in the history of human civilisation.
India has given rise to many splendid artists, some of whom have created works that have fetched millions at international auctions. Some of the most successful and Promethean artists from India are women. Here I am presenting ten of the most famous contemporary women artists in India.
Since 1991, Bharti Kher has focused on creating art which reflects her own nomadic life. She was born and brought up in England, but in the early 1990’s she moved to New Delhi. Kher utilises the readily available ‘Bindi’ which signifies ‘the third eye’ worn on the forehead by the Indian women. ‘Bindi’ plays the role of a basic building block for her masterpieces. She is also an expert in creating wild and eccentric resin-cast sculptures embroidered with Bindis.
Her famous works include ‘The Skin Speaks a Language Not it’s own’ (2006), ‘An Absence of an assignable cause’ (2007), ‘Off centre’, ‘Train’D To kill1’ and many more.
Maya Burman is one of the magical women artists in India. A tapestry like effect where everything is subordinate to patterning makes her modus operandi absolutely patented. A miraculous harmony of two cultures-Indian and French can be witnessed in her paintings. She started earning fame in the late 1970’s and continued creating spellbinding paintings till 2003.
Masterpieces like ‘Circus’ (2003), ‘Sweet whispers’, ‘Let’s play cards’ abound in her gallery.
Cascade of Flowers
Taking gigantic steps to establish herself among the spectacular women artists of India, Hema reflected one’s phobias, shortcomings and other real or imaginative tales through her paintings. As she has stated, her work was cathartic in process. She sculpted about 2000 cockroaches to gain aversion and enchantment from viewers in an installation, instigating a question on people’s minds in a politically tense time in South Africa, ‘Would cockroaches be the only survivors?’.
Since 2001 till her death in 2015 she captivated the thoughts of art lovers with her magnificent works like ‘Where the bees suck, there suck I’ (2009), ‘Princess’s rusted belt’ (2011) , ‘Mixed media on paper’ (2014) and others.
Made in China installation
Popularly known as India’s Frida Kahlo, Amrita Shergil is the country’s most celebrated female artist. Throughout her life, she made portraits of her friends, lovers and self-portraits by incorporating Indian traditions in her paintings. Her works displayed the poor condition of the underprivileged and women in the country.
‘Bride’s toilet’, ‘Two elephants’, ‘Haldi grinders’, ‘Shringaar’ and other stupendous paintings brought renaissance in the field of modern art.
Nalini Malani belongs to a group of artists who earned prominent name and fame internationally in 1980’s. Being a social activist, Malani’s work is based upon on the stories we have been ignoring. She brought grave issues of race, class and gender in the limelight through her creations. Her works have been exhibited worldwide including Japan, Australia, England, etc.
Between 1980 to 2010 she mesmerised her followers with her extraordinary creations like ‘Cassandra’, ‘Listening to the shades’, ‘Splitting the other’, ‘Living in Alicetime’ and many more.
Being inspired by undefeatable ‘prakriti’ (nature), Kallat constantly kept portraying the cycle of nature and the oscillations between constructing and prostrating movements of birth, death and rebirth. To depict the ephemerality of the objects which we chase, she paints cars and buildings in filled balloons.
Starting her career from 1991, her notable works include ‘Woven Chronicles’, ‘Hyphenated lives’, ‘Saline Notations’, etc.
From the Anatomy of Distance series
‘Padma Shri’ recipient Meera Mukherjee found her calling when she came across the folk art of Bastar metal casting and Dhokra. She was a painter and a sculptor as well. With her unique experiences, she was an expert in making wax sculptures. Celebration of humanism and intense curiosity to break the shackle of routine constitute the distinct features of her works.
From 1960 to 1980’s she sculptured over 100 marvellous creations like ‘Ashoka in Kalinga’, ‘Earth carriers’, ‘Smiths working under a tree’ and ‘Mother and Child’.
One of the most important women artists in India, Arpita Singh enlarged the visual horizon of contemporary women more than any other female artist. With pink and blues dominating the palette, her strokes on the canvas painted a wide range of emotions from sorrow to joy and from suffering to hope as well. Her background and aesthetics of Indian art forms are reflected through her works.
From 1960, she expressed her exuberant creativity and amazing imagination in the form of paintings. Her famous works are ‘Summer months’, ‘Girl at the window’, ‘Security check’ and so on.
Anjolie Ela Menon’s paintings were identifiable by their bright colours, and sharp outlines which were painted to exhibit the ultimate audacity of youth. From erotic to melancholy, the dynamic of her work has constantly fluctuated over the years. Her works can’t be categorised in a single genre, which inspires her to explore new territories to work on.
Menon’s works have been featured in several group exhibitions, including ‘Kalpana: Figurative Art in India’, ‘Mapping Memories – 2, Painted Travelogues of Bali and Burma’ and ‘Kitsch Kitsch Hota Hai’.
Two faces of Ayesha
Best known for her portraits of Indian urban elite and middle class, Dayanita Singh focuses more on narration rather than compiling individual experiences in her books. She primarily worked on black and white but recently she made her debut in colour photography to witness the drama of light and shadow. Being inspired by Italo Calvino and Gustav Mahler, she advises aspiring photographers to read literature rather than studying photography alone, which will help one to bring something to the photography.
She began her journey the year of 1995 and is continuing to delight in her own field. ‘Museum Bhavan’, ‘The museum of machines’, ‘File room’, ‘Office museum’ are some of her best works.
Museum Bhavan exhibit
I hope this post of mine inspires you to learn more about these inspiring women artists of India and their work.
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