Reference Entry

Singh, Arpita

Sumitra Kumar Srinivasan

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T078941

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(b Bara Nagar, West Bengal, June 22, 1937).

Indian painter. She took her National Diploma in Art at the School of Art at Delhi Polytechnic, New Delhi, in 1959. At the outset of her career her work showed a high degree of abstraction. She painted almost exclusively in black on white or on pale-coloured grounds, concentrating on structuring organic forms in sweeps that left a tracery of fine linear patterns on flat, dormant energy fields. During the 1970s she grew restless and felt the urgent need to introduce strong colours and bold figuration into her work. Colourful flowers and squat toy cars driven by sedate, meticulously-dressed men emerged from the matrix of her linear abstractions. Soon her oil canvases and watercolours teemed with a richly imaginative variety of compositional elements. Each object seemed to enter the work randomly of its own volition. The garden patch, fruits, flowers, checked tablecloths, chairs, cars, crockery and aeroplanes invaded her work in a flurry of animated, fantastical activity. Amongst these jostling objects large figures loomed serenely, unaffected by the incongruity of cars that dash vertically into the air, aeroplanes that fly through the grass and vegetation that sprouts in fecund abundance on the ground, on clothes and in the air. Strongly delineated central figures held the composition together, anchoring the flux and movement around them. These images carried memories, associations, fantasies and humour and were stamped with a sense of positive life energy. Strength of draughtsmanship and compositional equilibrium were achieved by carefully modulated tonal values, the movement of short, upward-thrusting brushstrokes and an element of surprise. Familiar objects and people, including her young neighbour, recur in several paintings. Her monumental figures have a graceful lightness that contrasts with their robust stance and physiognomy. Spontaneity in handling colour, line, volume, mass, texture and form is controlled by meticulous compositional values, a feel for detail and above all her understanding of the balancing of multiple figures and spatial planes and their seemingly random placement in her works. Arpita Singh held solo shows in Delhi and Bombay and participated in national exhibitions from ...

Reference Entry.  437 words. 

Subjects: Painting ; South and Southeast Asian Art ; 20th-Century Art

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