1967 - 17 Nov 2020
The art world of India bid adieu to artist, humanist and woman of the world Anjum Singh this week. Singh hailed from an illustrious family of artists. She is the daughter of internationally renowned and most respected artists Paramjit and Arpita Singh. The Singh family and the Abrol family have been lifelong family friends and have known one and other for decades, I would like to take a moment, to say, no words can describe the loss and feelings of sadness felt by friends of the family. Ashana Abrol; Founder of PozoART says she has lost her sister, her inspiration and art soul-mate.
Anjum had that effect on everyone. She was diligent, dedicated, passionate about her world and her work. Thus, it was natural to expect that she would follow in her parents’ footsteps as their protege. This was not the case and she did not let the spotlight on her parents overshadow her true love for exploring her interest in urban ecology and ecological degradation. Though there is no denying her parents invaluable influence on her from childhood would give her the foundation to pursue her passion and interest in both biology and art. Her love for both would create a nexus in Anjum’s palette illuminating it with images combining aesthetic with science and-yet producing a world that was philosophically artistic.
In a recent interview Anjum reveals, “While phrases like 'hard work' and 'no shortcuts were hammered into me, the individuality of expression and free dialogue was greatly encouraged.”
As a young girl, Anjum was in awe of her parent's creativity. She would watch both her father and mother create thousands of moments from the world onto a blank canvas. She gravitated to the colours of energy. The reds, pinks and oranges fascinated her throughout her life and were thematic constants in her art.
She was diagnosed with cancer six years ago and her last works are emblematic of her life dealing with cancer. Her solo exhibition, 'I am still here' held at Talwar Gallery last year (2019), held deeply sensitive works expressing fragility and delicacy in painting the disease and its effects. The exhibition received an overwhelming response from critics and viewers.
An experimental artist Singh delved in portraying the ordinary to painting the changing landscapes of society and then highlighting her own perspective and thoughts on her experience in fighting cancer. Her compositions were complex and layered with multi-faceted images bringing to her canvas the impossible three-dimensional truths and realities of existence which conveyed a deep pondering of life and lives lived. Her canvas was infused with textures and she worked a multitude of layers with paint and a knife.
Educated at Kala Bhavan Shantiniketan she pursued her Master's Degree at College of Art in Delhi and then went abroad to study in Washington, DC at the Corcoran School of Art in the ’90s.
Artist and friend Manisha Gera Baswan observed that her work represented her as a person: honest and true from the heart. “The organic nature of her art corresponded with her passion for everything in life.”
Anjum did not paint for a major part of 2019 because of her health. Paintings like Dust Storm, Alien and Still against white are the last works she did.
She had said that her last paintings seemed to have taken their own path. “I felt that they had taken a slightly different direction, especially in the way they were painted, so I continued from that point.
And as her paintings evolved and represented an awakening in us, we are left with a void in the loss of one of India’s most talented artist and thinker.
The timelessness of Anjum life will continue through the timelessness of her art.