Exhibited and Catalogued : Anjolie Ela Menon solo, Art Musings, Mumbai, 2005
In 1960, at the age of twenty, Menon departed India to study art in Europe. There, she was influenced by her exposure to the techniques of the medieval Christian artists. While in Paris, she began to experiment with a muted palette of translucent colours,which she created by the repeated application of oil paint in thin glazes. Painting on hardboard, Menon enhanced the finely textured surface of her paintings by burnishing the finished work with a soft dry brush, creating a glow reminiscent of medieval icons. Menon utilized the characteristics of early Christian art--including the frontal perspective, the averted head, and the slight body elongation--but took the female nude as a frequent subject. The result is a dynamic relationship of eroticism and melancholy. Menon developed her iconography of distance and loss in her later works through her thematic depiction of black crows, empty chairs,windows, and hidden figures; with these paintings, she became internatinally established as an artist of note.
Yet, as Menon noted, "when repeated often enough, a motif becomes a symbol which in turn becomes a cliché; a cliché becomes an absurdity, a cartoon". Therefore in 1992, she staged an exhibit of household chairs, trunks and cupboards, all painted with images appropriated from her own paintings. This radical recontextualization of her work constituted a pre-emptive strike by Menon to "remove art from its pedstal". She continued the reimagination of her corpus in the "Mutations" of 1996. Menon manipulated images from her best-known paintings on a computer, and overpainted the print-outs with acrylics and oils. More recently, she embarked on a collaboration with Gayatri Rula to produce sculptures in Muranese glass. Menon created models in clay, which were cast in fibre glass and shaped into glass by the Italian craftspeople of Muran. The objects, ranging from figures of Krishna and Ganesha to bowls and plates, were currently on display at the Dome Gallery of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.