A river of art and culture ahead of time.

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IIn this era of the Black Lives pea, perhaps the most relevant images are the ancient depictions of Madonna and the baby. Contrary to current understanding of the two holy figures with blonde hair, light complexion, and Caucasian bodies, some of the earliest images of Mary and Jesus portrayed them as black people. Not only in Coptic iconography and Ethiopian manuscripts, but also in some German church statues of black virgins and infants.

However, White divinity Nowadays it is almost a universal concept. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, later translated into Aramaic and Quinn Greek, further translated into Latin, English and other languages. In the same way, the most sacred figures in Christianity were also ‘translated’, who kept changing their colors and characteristics from region to region and different periods. Indian artist FD Souza painted a way to reclaim religion, a black Christ and a brown mother and child. Similarly, her compatriot Anjou Ella Menon is destroying the Christian faith (mostly brought by the British Raj) by portraying the characters in a religious image from New Delhi, Mumbai or Goa, not from Galileo, Rome or Dublin.

In her solo exhibition, By the River, (August 19-18, Icon Art, New York) Menon exhibits a picture of Christ with a crown of thorns (Jesus), and a mother and child (divine mother II). Interestingly, these paintings with religious content are different from other attempts to localize foreign ideas / personalities. Menon’s models do not look European, they look more familiar and cheerful people, the way you come – and usually fail to take notice – in the small towns and villages of the Indian subcontinent. In a way, Anjou Ella Menon reminds us that Jesus Christ and the Holy Mother were not from the highest levels of society, they were from a carpenter’s family. A relationship that by no means counts as their divine supremacy.

Menon paints the figures “on finely textured surfaces … by burning the finished work with a soft, dry brush, reminiscent of medieval icons.” He is able to embody the religious aspect in his paintings, as “Menon’s study in Paris in the 1960s introduced him to the techniques of medieval Christian iconography, especially Byzantine art.”

In fact, the painter, whose career spans “fifty years now,” not only presents Christian themes in this way, but also presents other devout figures and ordinary people with the same technique and the same dignity. In the current exhibition’s 25 paintings, Menon has photographed a Hindu guru. A devotee of Kumbh FairA A Pandit, with people who have no clear religious identity, naive: a boy behind the scenes. The other is picking up a cat and holding a few balloons. Children hold goats to their breasts An old friend is reading a newspaper at the window of his house (Rafia Manzil) A woman is holding a doll with a girl sitting on the bed. Or grabbing other men and women and carrying a goat

All of these, along with a few pictures of men and women, point to the basis of life in art. Especially after epidemics, the meaning of his work takes different turns. Alone, engaged in their formal rituals, or household routines (reading a paper with the headline: Infectious diseases on the rise), in the company of animals (cats, goats, parrots) describe the state of human indifference at the moment (perhaps this Many degrees more alienated from the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century. At this stage, people are afraid of their own special class. In his painting, in the mansion, a male figure stands against open windows and a square of some deserted building, occupied by goats. In this work, Anjouli Ella Menon “revisits a familiar theme – the harmony of man and animal, the unity that maintains the delicate balance.” This relationship is seen in Kumbh. Fair Also, the man balances the parrot on his wrist as well as hugs the boys with closed eyes (as if in trance)

Anjuli Ella Menon’s art has little spirituality, as she paints with many meanings and references. Probably the bravest and most direct is the fruit sitting on an empty chair with a crow, a wasted bottle of water, a discarded paper cup, a forgotten scarf and a broken party balloon. Here the artist creates a situation in which human beings disappear, and as a result their products last longer.

Not only are these functional items visible after their initial use, but the art or language of an artist is also present beyond a certain stage. One wonders about the most often chosen method, the medium – and more importantly, the way an artist works, which prevails despite changes in time, trends, moods and tensions. Anjouli denies Ella Menon’s work over the years. Using the traditional technique of paintmento, apply thin sheets of mannequin oil paint to the hardboard. These surfaces are stimulated by extreme friction. Not only is this a prerequisite for an old technique of painting translucent images on top of each other (Pintamento), but its image has hardly changed over the years. Although one gets new characters, different settings and fresh items, his aesthetic concerns and constructions seem mostly unchanged.

For an art circle that, like the fashion world, is constantly looking for newness, artists like Anjoli Ella Menon have a hard time understanding (although due to her celebrity status in Indian and international art) There is no question of reducing. Solo exhibitions in prestigious galleries and museums in the United States, the former USSR, and India (in addition to representing his country in Algiers Bianale and Sao Paulo, Brazil). Artists like this, looking for a combination of themes, visuals and mediums, are reminiscent of Garcia Marquez, who once suggested in an interview that some authors write the same book over and over again, each time one. With different titles.

In a sense, Anjouli Ella Menon’s work is already a continuation of modern artistic ideas, values ​​and methods. You don’t have to invent for that, but you get the advantage of an existing imagery. New Pin is not about discovering a different set of visuals or finding some weird technique, but about having an unusual and extraordinary experience in coping with tasks, which – otherwise there is nothing new, such as قوالیs Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Farid Ayaz and Abu Muhammad. Their pieces are variations in the works of their masters / elders, or in their own former forms, yet each performance touches one’s heart in a unique way. Just because these artists are not aware of the demands of the audience, they seek perfection, intensity, greatness in their creations, which appears to be a selfish act from the outside.

Looking at Ella Menon’s recent paintings, Anjou recognizes a similar beauty, virtue and devotion, as she is not playing in the market. Speaking to Neville Touli, the 81-year-old artist admitted, “I think painting is one of the most selfish things anyone can do.”


The author is a Lahore-based art critic.



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