08 April 2010

Amrita Shergill............an artist who made a significant contribution to Indian art!!!!

Amrita Shergill (01/'13 - 12/'41), a woman whose works are considered as among the most expensive in India, was an eminent painter whose legacy & works can be compared to those of the Masters of Bengali art.

Known as India's 'Frida Kahlo', she managed to carve a niche for herself in Indian art thus becoming one of the Nine great Masters whose works were declared as national treasures by the Government of India.

Born in Hungary to an Indian father & Hungarian mother, she was brought up in Shimla learning music & enacting plays along with her younger sister. She formerly started painting at the age of 8 yrs & travelled around Europe & Italy to learn art from European painters like Cezanne & Gauguin, mostly being influenced by their western style. Her first work, 'Three girls' in 1935, got her elected to the highest art salon in Paris making her the youngest Asian to have done so. All of this was'nt enough to satisfy her emotionally though, leaving her with an intense longing to return to India!!!

In India, she worked prolifically, influenced by both Mughal & Pahari schools of paintings as well as depictions of life in South India. Her paintings are intense & portray Indian life with all their nuances & ethos. She was a non-confirmist & this was reflected in the bohemian way she lived & also in her art, wherein she actually painted herself nude, being one amongst the earliest woman artists to have done so.

The work of Amrita Shergill attains all the more significance when we realise that she dwelt during the time of Bengali greats like Rabindranath Tagore & Jamini Roy who were well known, yet she managed to carve her own niche among them. 'The Progressive Artist's Group' consisting of other greats like F.N.Souza, S.H Raza, M.F Hussain was also in its infancy at the time & were greatly influenced by her works.

Leaving behind her huge body of work, Amrita died prematurely just before the opening of her first major show in Lahore & although she was deprived of seeing the heights to which she could have gone, she would have been happy to have known that her works continue to be a source of inspiration for artists like me!!!!

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