THE ESTATE OF KEKOO AND KHORSHED GANDHY Property from the Collection of Rashna Imhasly-Gandhy and Behroze Gandhy

Women with Boats and Ducks (Painting 1)

Women with Boats and Ducks (Painting 1)
titled, inscribed, dated and signed 'WOMEN WITH BOATS AND DUCKS (PAINTING 1) OIL ON CANVAS 1986 Arpita Singh' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
48 x 47 7/8 in. (121.9 x 121.6 cm.)
Painted in 1986

Lot Essay

"There is in her paintings the substance of a wakeful dream materialising image and mirage, body and fabric [...] The making of beauty obsesses
Arpita. For her the pleasure and ploy of ornamentation is both
celebration and disguise." -Nilima Sheikh

Arpita Singh's free-floating compositions address challenging social and political subject matter, while maintaining an aura of quiet luminosity and grace. Singh spent four years working in the Weavers' Service Centres in Calcutta and Delhi, and her paintings partly draw on the stylistic devices of the traditional Kantha embroidery she became familiar with there. Often enveloping the entire canvas with ornamental borders and sacrificing perspective for figural relationships and patterns, Singh's works like this 1986 painting repeatedly quote this textile tradition.

Typically depicting women situated amongst icons signifying states of violence and peace, and public and private realms, Singh's use of scale, attention to detail, and compositional arrangement of figures and the litany of commonplace items they share the surface with makes her work truly unique.

"Arpita Singh is probably one of the most enigmatic artists working in India today. In her paintings she desribes what is seemingly the quotidian world with which we are all familiar. It is not an exotic world of fantasy - it is only too real. She paints her family, her friends, and her neighbors. They are ordinary people whose ordinary routines are interrupted by the passages of life - by birth and death. Yet, the presence of guns, planes and automobiles introduces an edgy awareness that the protagonists are implicated in a wider drama. Arpita engages a coded visual language in her paintings whose meaning can only be hinted at through symbol and metaphor." (Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, India: Contemporary Art from Northeastern Private Collections, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum exhibition catalogue, Rutgers, 2002, p. 105)

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