Amrita Sher-Gil

 National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, and the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, Ministry of Culture, Government of India are happy to inform that a special exhibition, ‘AmritaSher-Gil: The Passionate Quest’, developed by NGMA New Delhi on the occasion of the closing of the birth centenary celebrations of Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941) will be inaugurated and thrown open to the public at NGMA Mumbai on the 31st of May 2014. It is for the first time that almost the entire NGMA collection of around 95 works of Amrita Sher-Gil will be showcased at the exhibition, including many paintings that have rarely been displayed before.

Amrita Sher-Gil

The works Amrita Sher-Gill produced during her short but prolific life combined brilliant details from the scenes of everyday life in India, and created a timeless monumentality. In a tragically brief career, Sher-Gil did much to introduce her country to the idea of the free-spirited artist, and to show her people that art could interpret Indian life for Indians

She came to India in 1921, drew inspiration from the exquisite little miniatures of Kangra and frescoes of Ajanta. The figures she drew with expressions on their faces were her own invention. Amrita’s paintings were not mere reproductions of what she saw around her but visions born out of the coordination of colour, design and emotion. Visit to South India inspired her to produce the most remarkable works such as "The Bride’s Toilette", “The Brahmacharis" and "South Indian Villagers going to Market". The Brahmacharis, which was painted in , is a fine example of her understanding of the Hindu faith which is still prevalent in the traditionalist South India. She is remembered for her paintings done just over a period of seven years. But the passion with which she handled the brush and the genius with which she combined her training in the West and her view of the East, made her most popular. The sincerity of her subject and the uses of colours bring to Amrita’s paintings a quality of timelessness. Most of her paintings reflect her love for the country and more importantly her response to the life of its people. She was the youngest among the pioneers of contemporary movement and the most short lived.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Mrs Pheroza Godrej, Chairperson Advisory Committee, NGMA Mumbai in the august presence of Dr Gieve Patel, eminent poet and painter and Ms Yashodhara Dalmia, Curator of the exhibition on 31st May 2014 at 6.00 PM at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.
Pheroza Godrej in her inaugural address said “The richness of Amrita Sher-Gil’s visual language and experiments with form and composition have been sensitively analysed by the curator, Yashodhara Dalmia, who has approached the oeuvre from four different perspectives described as Threshold, Icon and Iconolastic, Hungarian Manifestation and Indian Journey. Mrs Pheroza Godrej thanked the curator Yashodhara Dalmia for her perceptive approach to Amrita Sher-Gil’s art. She also expressed her thanks and gratitude to Ms. Manju Singh, Chairperson and members of
Group of Three Girls, Oil on canvas, January 1935

the NGMA New Delhi Advisory Committee for their support in bringing this exhibition to NGMA Mumbai. She also acknowledged the support of the members of the Advisory Committee NGMA Mumbai and the sincere efforts of the entire NGMA, Mumbai team for making this exhibition a great success.
This impressive and arresting collection of her paintings is supplemented by an illuminating display of text and images titled, Remembering Amrita Sher-Gil. This focuses on the artistic genius and mercurial personality of Amrita Sher-Gil, which have a bearing on her paintings. To further contextualise Amrita Sher-Gil’s modernism, an audio-visual highlighting the European art scene in the early 20th century, conceptualised by Ella Datta, is an attraction to this significant show.
Nude Oil on canvas, 1933

Prof Rajeev Lochan Director NGMA New Delhi, who spearheaded the birth centenary celebrations of Amrita Sher-Gil said, “The complexity of Amrita Sher-Gil’s personality and the brilliant versatility of her work invite varied reactions. Viewers remark on the sensuousness of her representations, her sensitivity, her melancholy faces and her intimate projections of a female identity. And indeed all these readings are inescapably true. I am confident that this exhibition will recontextualise Amrita Sher-Gil and her work in our present times

Marking the inauguration of the exhibition here at NGMA Mumbai Shivaprasad Khened Director NGMA Mumbai said “Bold, unconventional, hugely talented and very beautiful – the painter Amrita Sher-Gil is the stuff that legends are made of. Her paintings reveal her training in the Western schools of art, but at the same time, reflect colourfully her love for India and her response to the life of its people”.

Mapping Amrita Sher-Gil’s genius, Yashodhara Dalmia said, “her fervent journey resulted in a successful melding of Eastern and Western traditions. This paved the way for modernism in Indian art and influenced generations of artists. Sher-Gil's immense achievement is commemorated in this exhibition which also marks her birth centenary year. The works map the journey from the genesis of her art to its triumphant culmination in the last period. This consists of the essential conditions of her paintings which can be traced to the training at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, her return to India in 1934, the subsequent experiments in her work resulting from the exposure to Ajanta and Ellora and Indian miniatures as well as her last paintings which point towards another fruitful breakthrough. As Sher-Gil's attempts at modernity and loosening the shackles of academism became increasingly successful, she was to make iconic works which created a distinctive interweaving of Eastern and Western art.

“Amrita Sher-Gil flashed through the Indian artistic horizon like an incandescent meteor. Her place in the trajectory of Indian modern art is unquestionably pre eminent. Her aesthetic sensibility shows not surprisingly a blend of European and Indian elements. Her command over handling of oil medium and use of colour, as well as her vigorous brushwork and strong feeling for composition, all go towards giving a dazzling quality to her genius. Amrita Sher-Gil was already a legend as a young woman painter in the early thirties of the last century in the art world of India. This exhibition at NGMA Mumbai is accompanied by the release of a comprehensive catalogue with a lead essay by YashodharaDalmia.

The exhibition will be on view for public from 1.06.2014 to 30.06.2014 from 11 am – 6 PM, for a period of one month. (Except on Mondays and National holidays).

National Gallery of Modern Art
Sir Cowasji Jehangir Public Hall,
M G Road Mumbai 400032

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