Born in 1937 in what is now Bangladesh, Arpita Singh received her diploma in Fine Arts at the Delhi Polytechnic before taking up the job of a designer at the Weaver's Service Centres in Kolkata and New Delhi. Each of Arpita Singh's drawings, watercolours on paper, and oils on canvas has a story to tell. To simply say that this renowned artist's work is narrative would be a gross understatement. Afflicted by the problems that are faced each and every day by women in her country and the world in general, Singh paints the range of emotions that she exchanges with these subjects – from sorrow to joy and from suffering to hope – providing a view of the ongoing communication she maintains with them.
The artist's colours are vibrant, her palette usually dominated by pinks and blues, and her paintings burst at the seams with teeming life forms and objects or motifs like guns, cars, planes, animals, trees and flowers. Described as a figurative artist and a modernist, Arpita Singh still makes it a point to stay tuned in to traditional Indian art forms and aesthetics, like miniaturist painting and different forms of folk art, employing them in her work regularly. The way in which she uses perspective and the narrative in her work is steeped in the miniaturist traditions and a direct reflection of her background.
Tarot Card Reading
Oil on canvas (Triptych)
71.5 x 89 in | 181.6 x 226.1 cm
Signed and dated in English (lower left)
Photographie en couleurs dans le catalogue de son exposition de 2003
Memory Jars. New Paintings and Watercolors
Bose Pacia, New York, 2003
"The psychological and the political merge in paintings by New Delhi artist Arpita Singh. So do everyday life and allegory, expressionism and ornament, historical sources from Bengal folk painting to Marc Chagall, and a formal approach that is at once unassuming and hard-worked, gauche and poised"" (Holland Cotter, The New York Times, October 3, 2003).
In this large triptych, titled Tarot Card Reading, Singh uses her vivid palette to comment, from the perspective of her aging female protagonists, on the vagaries of time as well as the uncertainty of the future. The multiple depictions of Singh's subject, with her bent over form and exposed spine and intestines, speak of a lifetime of fulfilling internally and externally assigned roles, from mother to wife and goddess to lover. As airplanes carry people into and out of her life and memories, fluffy pillows and rows of teacups speak of her private and domestic affairs. Images of clothed lovers and pink flowers add a romantic thread to the tapestry, while a muddled clock-face and fragments of text, like the women's sagging flesh, hint at the violence of the passage of time and their fading recollections.
Lesser Myth, 2006
Serigraph on paper
31 x 24 inches