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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'ARPITA SINGH 96' (lower right)
Titled 'Counting Pots' (lower left)

CIMA Gallery, Kolkata
Private collection, Kolkata
Galerie 88, Kolkata

The textile tradition is an important part of the Bengali culture Arpita Singh was born in. Her interest in the craft gave her an extraordinary aesthetic resource and distinguished her works from her peers. Starting 1980s, Arpita adopted the stylistic devices of traditional Kantha embroidery and incorporated design elements from textile art in her works. These include the repetition of patterns, playing on symmetry, and saturating the picture planes with visual designs. This resulted in the entire canvas embellished with detailed forms and figures contained within an ornamental borders, as seen in the current lot.

Here, a person sits in a chair counting pots while in a field of seemingly unrelated signs and symbols. The protagonist straddles two color planes, one above with somber faces of varying ages and genders and another below with pots accompanied by ostensibly random numbers. These numbers that resemble calendar pages poignantly alludes to the wear of time, the unforgiving process of aging, and the series of losses one experiences in a lifetime.

Typical with her compositions, she deploys an allegorical style of narrative in addressing sensitive and personal subjects while maintaining a semblance of brightness and playfulness in the picture. Deepak Ananth posits, "the poetics of free association also becomes a politics, and it is the secret tension between these registers that constitute the enigmatic force field of Singh's work in the last twenty years. The figure/ground gestalt becomes transposed as a chiasmus of pleasure and pain; the surface remains as delectable as ever, but the deeper structure of the painting is keyed to motifs of desolation and death.[...] Mortality stalks Singh's pictorial world."

Text Reference:
Deepak Ananth, 'Profound Play', Arpita Singh, Vadehra Art Gallery & Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2015, p. 38

Arpita Singh

(b. 1937)
Born in erstwhile Bengal, Arpita Singh trained at the School of Art, New Delhi Polytechnic, from where she graduated in 1959. Some of her solo exhibitions, since first held at the Kunika Chemould Art Center, 1972, include those at DC Moore Gallery, New York, in 2012; Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, and the Museum Gallery, Mumbai, in 2010-11; Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, in 2006 and 1994; Bose Pacia, New York, in 2003; and Schoo’s Gallery (Foundation for Indian Artists), Amsterdam, in 1993. Her works have been exhibited in many groups shows, including ‘The Modernists’ at RL Fine Arts, New York, in 2010, ‘Bharat Ratna!’ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2009; ‘Of Personal Narratives and Journeys’ at Bodhi Art, Gurgaon, in 2008; ‘Fluid Structures: Gender and Abstraction’ at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, in 2008; ‘India Art Now: Between Continuity and Transformation’, Milan, in 2007-08; ‘Horn Please: Narratives in Contemporary Indian Art’ at the Kunstmuseum, Bern, in 2007; and ‘Women Artists from India’ at Mills College, California, in 1997. Singh was awarded the Kalidas Samman by the Madhya Pradesh State Government in 1998-99, and the Parishad Samman from the Sahitya Kala Parishad in New Delhi. Singh lives and works in New Delhi.