My Daughter
signed and dated ‘ARPITA SINGH 1995’ (lower right); further signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'ARPITA SINGH / MY DAUGHTER / OIL ON CANVAS / 1995' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
48 x 33 1/2 in. (121.9 x 85.1 cm.)
Painted in 1995
Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1996
Arpita Singh - Exhibition of Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Kolkata, 1995 (illustrated, unpaginated)
Kolkata, Centre of International Modern Art (CIMA), Arpita Singh - Exhibition of Paintings, 19 January - 4 February, 1996

Brought to you by

Nishad Avari
Nishad Avari Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

The present lot, a tender portrait of Arpita Singh’s daughter Anjum, also an artist, was painted in 1995 when Anjum was 28 years old. The most personal of a series of oils and watercolors centering on maternal relationships and paired female figures (see lots 502 and 527), this painting is also one of the few from her oeuvre referencing members of the artist’s close circle of family and friends.

Here, Arpita captures her child on the cusp of her journey into the professional world. A confident and assured young woman, Anjum is portrayed seated at a table, wearing a dark coat with her hands clasped in front of her. Etched into the table’s codex-like surface are rows of numbers, letters and symbols, representative perhaps of the enigmas that await her out in the world.

Speaking about this painting, Singh noted, “My daughter and I are very close friends and we share a close bond. I cannot say that I share the same friendship with my mother or we are that close. But I have a strong awareness that she is connected to me in an inexplicable way. There is something else that is happening to me. Maybe, the occurrences are accidental or coincidences but there are times that I work with a sense of premonition. I work on a painting and suddenly the image foretells a coming event. Like the painting in which I have used the seated figure of my daughter with a line from a poem of Octavio Paz which talks of a passage. It was after I had finished the painting that I learnt that my daughter was planning to get married” (Artist statement, Arpita Singh, Kolkata, 1995, unpaginated).

The line of poetry that Singh refers to above is inscribed across the upper borders of the painting, almost like a protective invocation over the doorway Anjum is about to step through. One of the last lines of Paz’s poem Face to Time from 1976, dedicated to the Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, it reads, “Manuel: / lend me your wooden horse / to go to the other side of this side” (E. Weinberger ed., The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987, New York, 1991, p. 397). By weaving these references to Paz and, by extension, to Bravo into the painting, Singh seamlessly connects herself and her daughter to global currents of artistic practice, as they both navigate the interminable passage of time and all the changes it brings.

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