Inspirational Woman – Amrita Sher-Gil 

The next Inspirational Woman that we have is an Artist, who was way ahead of her time. A woman who has been addressed as “one of the greatest avant-garde women artists of the early 20th century” and a “pioneer” in modern Indian art, Amrita Sher-Gil. Ms.Sher-Gil was also known as India’s Frida Kahlo because of the “revolutionary” way she blended Western and traditional art forms.

She is also considered as a revolutionary woman artist and the originator of modern art in India. Though her artworks mainly depicted Western style and culture during the initial stages of her career, the painter gradually began to rediscover herself by depicting Indian subjects using traditional methods. Apart from painting, she was also well-versed in playing piano and fond of reading.

She had been called Drawn to painting from an early age, Ms.Sher-Gil started getting formal lessons in the art, at the age of eight. She first gained recognition at the age of 19, for her oil painting titled Young Girls (1932). She depicted everyday life of the people in her paintings.

Ms. Sher-Gil traveled throughout her life to various countries including Turkey, France, and India, deriving heavily from precolonial Indian art styles and its current culture. She is considered an important painter of 20th-century India, whose legacy stands on a level with that of the pioneers from the Bengal Renaissance. She was also an avid reader and a pianist. Her paintings are among the most expensive by Indian women painters today, although few acknowledged her work when she was alive.

During the initial stages of her career, Amrita’s works deeply reflected her Western influence and her technique was similar to the paintings that were practiced in the Bohemian circles. While in Paris, she came up with a number of paintings depicting her own life in Paris. She often used her friends as her subjects and also ended up with a series of self-portraits. 

Around this time, she created ‘Young Girls’, which gained wide recognition and appreciation. Judging by the rich colors that she often used in her paintings, one of her professors predicted that her works would make more sense in the East rather than the West. Her professor’s wish soon came true as she returned to India after experiencing a sudden longing to head back to India. 

Ms.Sher-Gil’s art has influenced generations of Indian artists from Sayed Haider Raza to Arpita Singh and her depiction of the plight of women has made her art a beacon for women at large both in India and abroad. The Government of India has declared her works as National Art Treasures, and most of them are housed in the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. Some of her paintings also hang at the Lahore Museum. A postage stamp depicting her painting ‘Hill Women’ was released in 1978 by India Post, and the Amrita Shergil Marg is a road in Lutyens’ Delhi named after her. Sher-Gil was able to prove to western societies that Indians were able to make fine art. Her work is deemed to be so important to Indian culture that when it is sold in India, the Indian government has stipulated that the art must stay in the country – fewer than ten of her works have been sold globally. In 2006, her painting Village Scene sold for ₹6.9 crores at an auction in New Delhi which was at the time the highest amount ever paid for a painting in India.[31]

Her works in India, post her wedding, had a tremendous impact on Indian art in the following years. Many of her works were influenced by the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Abanindranath Tagore. Among her works during this phase of her life, the best ones were ‘Siesta’, ‘Village Scene’ and ‘In the Ladies’ Enclosure’, all of which represented the poor state of the unprivileged and women in the country. Though her works were celebrated by critics, they seldom found buyers. In 1941, she moved to Lahore (undivided India), where art was being appreciated at that time. There she came up with marvelous paintings such as ‘The Bride’, ‘Tahitian’, ‘Red Brick House’ and ‘Hill Scene’.

The Indian cultural center in Budapest is named the Amrita Sher-Gil Cultural Center. Contemporary artists in India have recreated and reinterpreted her works. Amrita Sher-Gil (1969) is a documentary film about the artist, directed by Bhagwan Das Garga and produced by the Government of India’s Films Division. It won the National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Film.

Besides remaining an inspiration to many a contemporary Indian artists, in 1993, she also became the inspiration behind the Urdu play Tumhari Amrita.

UNESCO announced 2013, the 100th anniversary of Sher-Gil’s birth, to be the international year of Amrita Sher-Gil. Sher-Gil’s work is a key theme in the contemporary Indian novel Faking It by Amrita Chowdhury.

Aurora Zogoiby, a character in Salman Rushdie’s 1995 novel The Moor’s Last Sigh, was inspired by Sher-Gil.[47]

On 30 January 2016, Google celebrated her 103rd birthday with a Google Doodle. In 2018, at a Sotheby’s auction in Mumbai, Sher-Gil’s painting “The Little Girl in Blue” was auctioned for a record-breaking 18.69 crores. This painting is a portrait of Amrita’s cousin Babit, a resident of Shimla and was painted in 1934, when the subject was 8 years old.


Image Source: Southeby

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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