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Anjolie Ela Menon - Artists - Aicon Art 2024


Born 1940 in Burnpur, West Bengal, India
Lives and works in New Delhi, India.

Throughout her six-decade-long career, Anjolie Ela Menon has cemented her status as a pioneering figurative painter, working in defiance of the trends of the day. The themes pervading Menon’s artwork are universal yet distinctly Indian: urban life, family, spirituality. Her flat, decisive brushstrokes evoke the style of Byzantine art, harking back to her studies of medieval Christian iconography during her time in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts. Observers of Menon have likened her works to that of Modigliani, Van Gogh, M. F. Husain, and Amrita Sher-Gil.

Since setting off as a young artist committed to deliberate, almost austere figures, Menon has evolved greatly and perfected a style signature to her enigmatic story. Her early works showed a deft hand at applying muted, translucent colors, layering thin glazes of oil paint onto hardboard before burnishing with a soft dry brush. As her style continued to evolve, Menon adopted the distinctive compositional features of early Christian art – namely frontal perspective, the averted head, and slight elongation of the body – while also frequently painting female nudes. Her brushstrokes have grown bolder, her lines sharper and her color palette more saturated as she has matured. Menon’s portfolio features characters inspired by loved ones alongside black crows, empty chairs, and hidden figures encapsulating feelings of distance and loss.

Born 1940, Burnpur, West Bengal, India


Throughout her artistic career, Anjolie Ela Menon has re-envisioned her role as an artist and has produced various bodies of work toward her aim to defy categorization. Menon’s early paintings, mainly portraits, imply inspiration from the likes of Modigliani, Van Gogh, Amrita Sher-Gil, and M. F. Husain. She comments on her approach of using flat areas of thick bright color with sharp outlines, which were done "with the vigor and brashness of extreme youth."


Menon’s studies in Paris in the 1960s exposed her to the techniques of medieval Christian iconography, particularly Byzantine art. A period of experimentation led to a muted palette of translucent colors, by her layering thin glazes of oil paint onto hardboard. The finely textured surfaces were further enhanced by burnishing the finished work with a soft dry brush, creating a glow reminiscent of medieval icons. As her style continued to evolve, Menon developed the distinctive features of early Christian art - namely the frontal perspective, the averted head, and the slight body elongation - but took the female nude as a frequent subject. The result is a dynamic relationship of eroticism and melancholy. Menon developed her artistic approach of distance and loss in her later works through her thematic depiction of black crows, empty chairs, windows, and hidden figures.


Menon’s prolific output has resulted in solo and numerous group exhibitions internationally. Her works have been acquired by major museums in India and abroad and reside in both private and corporate collections. She is also well known for her murals and has represented India at the Algiers Biennale and in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Solo exhibitions include the Winston Gallery, Washington, USA; Doma Khudozhinkov, U.S.S.R; Rabindra Bhavanand Shridharani Gallery, New Dehli; Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta and a major solo exhibition at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco in 2006.


The artist lives and works in New Delhi.