Anjolie Ela Menon (b. 1940)
A contemporary artist whose work is characterised by mythical and fantastical elements, Anjolie Ela Menon is known primarily for her figurative paintings and murals that converge Western mediaeval iconography with Indian subject matter.
Menon was born in Burnpur, West Bengal, and began her education at Lawrence School, Lovedale in Tamil Nadu. After studying English Literature at Delhi University and art at the Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai, Menon studied fresco painting at École des Beaux Arts on a French government scholarship in 1961–62, during which period she travelled extensively across Europe, observing Romanesque and Byzantine art, elements of which later found their way into her work, such as the frontal orientation and slight elongation of the figures in her paintings.
Inspired by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Amedeo Modigliani, Amrita Sher-Gil and MF Husain, Menon’s early works were portraits executed in flat, vibrant colour with strong brushstrokes. Over a period of continuous experimentation, she developed her own technique of working with translucent colours and building fine layers of oil paint over Masonite board. In the 1970s, she began incorporating window frames in her works, using them as a grid to juxtapose the inside and the outside. Other common subjects in her work include Namboodiri priests and the female nude. She also created a series of paintings depicting Indian gods and goddesses, notably the Divine Mother series (2016–17), which includes works such as Yashoda with Baby Krishna (2016), Maya with Gautama (2016), Parvati with Ganesh (2016) and Madonna with Child (2017). Her more recent work features the people of the city, especially those in areas surrounding her studio in New Delhi. Menon has also created a number of murals and worked in various techniques, mediums and styles including Murano glass, computer graphics, kitsch and Cubism.
She received the Padma Shri in 2000 and the Kalidas Samman in 2018. Her work has been shown in solo and group shows across the world, including at the Lalit Kala Akademi (1968, 1971 and 1975); the Paris Biennale (1980); the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1993); Admit One Gallery, New York (2000); Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi (2007); and the Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2010). Retrospectives of her work have been held at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1998) and the Aicon Gallery, New York (2017). Her works are held at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts; and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
At the time of writing, Menon lives and works in New Delhi.
“Anjolie Ela Menon: A Retrospective.” Aicon Gallery, 2017. http://www.aicongallery.com/attachment/en/569f77d9cfaf347f2d8b4568/TextOneColumnWithFile/58f7ad6cced750791fdc3fd9.
Annuncio, Charubala. “A Neo Romantic Necrophiliac.” Outlook India, February 21, 2003. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/a-neo-romantic-necrophiliac/219046.
Bano, Rahat. “I Try to Follow the Path of Karmayoga.” Hindustan Times, October 21, 2009. https://www.hindustantimes.com/education/i-try-to-follow-the-path-of-karmayoga/story-mG9vJjlV3PfywC6UolQtAK.html.
Bhardwaj, Karan. “A Trend-setter’s Tale.” The Pioneer, August 12, 2013. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2013/vivacity/a-trend-setters–tale.html.
Das, Soma. “After a Nine-year Gap, Artist Anjolie Ela Menon Returns to Mumbai.” Hindustan Times, November 27, 2015. https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/divine-intervention-after-a-nine-year-gap-artist-anjolie-ela-menon-returns-to-mumbai/story-xnPwgv0bUepHcKxnFnQ8BN.html.
Deccan Herald. “Fliers Get a Taste of Indian Art,” January 31, 2013. https://www.deccanherald.com/content/308724/fliers-get-taste-indian-art.html.
Hindustan Times. “Artist Anjolie Ela Menon Conferred the Kalidas Award for Visual Arts,” July 01, 2018. https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/artist-anjolie-ela-menon-conferred-the-kalidas-award-for-visual-arts/story-mjaB7UjWpmtjBanG5ct9yL.html.
Mallik, Shrabasti. “The Scent of a Woman.” The Pioneer, April 14, 2015. https://www.dailypioneer.com/2015/vivacity/the-scent-of-a-woman.html.
Parvez, Subuhi. “My New Work Might Be a Little Controversial: Anjolie Ela Menon.” Hindustan Times, July 12, 2013. https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/my-new-work-might-be-a-little-controversial-anjolie-ela-menon/story-4bFszVMQ3vku0ZBKzvfk5O.html.
Prakash, Uma. “Anjolie Ela Menon: The Extraordinariness of the Ordinary.” Punch Magazine, June 13, 2020. https://thepunchmagazine.com/arts/art-design/anjolie-ela-menon-the-extraordinariness-of-the-ordinary.
The Statesman. “Lifetime Achievement Award for Rashid Khan, Anjolie Ela Menon,” August 9, 2013.
Rewat, Rau. “Bout of Menon-Ji-Tis.” Hindustan Times, February 22, 2007. https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/bout-of-menon-ji-tis/story-Qlwca8GFLCGebsjviK3KhJ.html.
Sanyal, Amitava. “How Ela Got her Frooves.” Hindustan Times, July 10, 2010. https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/how-ela-got-her-grooves/story-wn7Bqbhya5skRX0hox8y4M.html.
Subramaniam, Avinash. “The Story of Indian Art #14: Anjolie Ela Menon.” Engrave, May 15, 2017. https://engrave.in/blog/indian-art-anjolie-ela-menon/.
“The Sacred Prism III.” Exhibition Catalogue, Apparao Gallery, London, New York, San Francisco, 2001.
Wong, Mimi. “A Retrospective — Anjolie Ela Menon.” Art Asia Pacific, 2017. http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/WebExclusives/ARetrospective