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ARPITA SINGH (B. 1937)
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ABHISHEK AND RADHIKA PODDAR
ARPITA SINGH (B. 1937)

Untitled

Details
ARPITA SINGH (B. 1937)
Untitled
signed 'ARPITA SINGH' (lower right); further signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'ARPITA SINGH / PAINTING II, OIL / 1976' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
41 x 37 in. (104.1 x 94 cm.)
Painted in 1976
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist, circa late 1980s

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Umah Jacob
Umah Jacob

Lot Essay

Abhishek Poddar first met the artists Arpita and Paramjit Singh in the late 1980s through his friend and mentor Manjit Bawa. Spending time with them in Delhi, Calcutta and then at the art retreats he organised at his home in Coonoor, Abhishek developed a strong friendship with the artists that allowed him to closely witness and understand the evolution of their bodies of work.

Arpita Singh has drawn and painted Abhishek on several occasions, and created many works especially for Radhika and him. Apart from the carpets she designed on his request in 1992, the collector also commissioned her to create cushion covers, etched mirrors, designs for crockery and a set of twelve intimate watercolours representing the signs of the zodiac in 1999. Including these commissions, the Poddars' collection of the artist’s work is one of the most comprehensive in India, with a particularly strong selection of her early, abstract watercolours and oils.

These early works bear the distinct imprint of the time that the artist spent as a textile designer at the Weavers’ Service Centre in the 1960s. At the Centre, Singh studied various Indian cloth making traditions and fabric construction techniques including the fine kantha embroidery of Bengal and the richly ornamented shawls of Kashmir. Speaking about her time there, Singh notes, “I began to understand pattern, and soon textiles became a passion and has influenced the manner in which I construct and colour my images.” (Artist statement, Arpita Singh, New Delhi, 2015, p. 244)

Fellow artist Nilima Sheikh describes this moment in Singh’s oeuvre, noting, “Yes, Arpita paints beautifully. She has spent quite a lot of time learning how to. After practicing the calligraphy of modernism in accomplished black and white abstraction during the second part of the seventies she switched to painting abstractions in subtly nuanced and gleaming colour, dextrous in handling oils. Yet, even before the flags popped out of the abstract terrain to signal new directions, the care with which each daub and patch was laid on to the entire surface of the canvas was unusual. The pleasure in fabricating the surface of the tapestry made her a little unmindful of the reductive rules of modernist abstraction.” (N. Sheikh, ‘Materialising Dream: Body and Fabric’, Other Narratives/ Other Structures: Selected Works of Arpita Singh, New Delhi, 2014, p.106)

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