Delhi-based artist Anjum Singh died on Tuesday, after battling cancer for six years since she was diagnosed in 2014. She was 53.
Her distinctive canvases, splashed with bright shades of oranges, pinks and yellows and often drawing on autobiographical elements, were exhibited all over the world.
Born in 1967 to artist parents Arpita and Paramjit Singh, Anjum received her initial training from Kala Bhawan in Shantiniketan in West Bengal. She completed her Masters degree in Fine Arts from College of Art in New Delhi in 1991. She then continued her education at The Corcoran School of Art, Washington DC, from 1992 to 1994, and was awarded the Charles Wallace Fellowship to work at Gasworks, London, in 2002-2003.
According to Firstpost, her work tackled the themes of urban ecology and environmental degradation.
By her own accounts, Singh was “heavily influenced by Amrita Sher-Gil” in her initial days in Shantiniketan. “I was therefore, drawn towards a lot of figurative motifs,” she said for an artist’s profile on the Saffronart auction house’s website. “My sheer feel for colour and texture has led me to explore forms that do not tell a story, but exist for the sake of existence. I am not certain about the future of the figurative element in my work, but I do know that I wish to paint the simplicity of space, with or without form.”
Her final show was titled I am still here and was hosted in 2019 by Talwar Art Gallery in New Delhi. In the show, Singh explored her physical condition through a focus on the human body. She told Mash India in an interview, “Cancer completely engulfed my life since 2014. And I realized it was impossible to keep my art and life separate. All this automatically came into my work; it was like writing a diary of experiences both emotional and physical.”
It was described by The Hindu BusinessLine’s review as “one of the most well-hung exhibitions of the season, presenting dramatic views of individual paintings and compelling groupings of works on paper.”
Tributes for Singh poured in from several admirers of her work following her death.