Celebrating women artists

A recent art exhibition, showcased women artists and their contribution to Indian art. A review by Aruna Bhowmick.

Celebrating women artists

Girl With Mirror -Sabia

Sahitya Kala Parishad recently concluded its women based show within their VAMA initiative, ongoing since 1912.

The exhibition revolves around the objective of celebrating women artists and the “contribution in the field of Indian art” by each of the selected artists of the year.

The idea also is to provide a common platform for senior and upcoming artists to show together. The show, though held close to the International Women’s Day, is independent of it.


This year the show, including paintings, drawings and ceramics, featured women artists who choose women as their subjects.

Artists included this year were Anjoli Ela Menon, Gogi Saroj Pal, Seema Kohli Surinder Kaur, Vinita Das Gupta, Vasundhra Tewari Broota, Rajnish Kaur, Kavita Jaiswal, Sabia Khan and Shelly Jyoti in painting; Madhur Sen, Shama Maria, Shirley Bhatnagar and Kristine Michel in Ceramics; and Rashmi Khurana with drawing.

Artists like Anjolie Ela Menon, Gogi Saroj Pal, and now Seema Kohli, enjoy great stature by virtue of their understanding and balance of tradition and modernity.

With her intrinsic art sense, notwithstanding a westernised upbringing and worldwide exposure, Anjali has yet kept her art essentially Indian in its ethos and understanding, her mellow pallete and “gravitas”, as she calls it, making them convincing and acceptable by mere strength of signature.

To elevate the ordinary with artistic inspiration and a stroke of her brush has always come naturally to Menon from a very young age.

Distinctly a class apart, Menon exudes much substance even beyond her art ~ epitomising the complete woman ~ as wife, mother, grandmother, friend and gracious hostess, a very intelligent and articulate professional, as gratifying to hear as to view.

Gogi Saroj Pal had broken the mould right from the beginning, taking degrees one after another from various art institutions of her choosing, and carving a niche for herself and her art way ahead of others of her time.

Gogi finds it ironic that people shed tears on Christ’s suffering, but are unmoved by our overlook of sorrows of women in their own surroundings ~ whether mother, sister, wife, partner, friend or daughter.

This painted sisterhood of grief has long given her works a powerful poignancy she is recognised for.

Seema Kohli has emerged like a meteor on the Capital’s art scenario, pegged to traditional art yet highly evolved now. Kohli’s subjects are usually women, deified and iconic, set within extremely complex and detailed compositions, rendered in rich bright colours that make her palette regal and magnificent.

Kohli must be lauded for her sustained engagement with finely-detailed compositions, a trait now virtually rejected by male practitioners of traditional Indian miniatures, mainly for “practical” considerations.

Surinder Kaur’s abstactions of urban landscapes, as she explains them, exemplify proficient abstraction.

Undiscernible even as urban, the extraordinary richness and pictorial value of her works ring true the theory that a work of art justifies its own existence.

Sabia remains centered on figurative renderings of women from her own milieu, in all probabiliy, extensions of herself.

Kristine Michael and Kavita Jaiswal need no introduction on Delhi’s art scenario. Most of the upcoming artists are less familiar, and with scant time and occasion allowed to familiarise oneself with them, appraisal must wait for a time in the future ~ and their contribution to India’s contemporary art scenario even a tad longer.

Our government agencies are in the unfortunate habit of according little time and even less attention to matters of importance and gravity ~ like understanding of an artist and her art, even for the sake of assessment and appraisal!