Amrita Sher Gil is one of the few female artists who “made it” in a sexist society that doesn’t give much space to the contribution women give it.
Often defined as an “Indian Frida Kahlo” Amrita Sher Gil died very young, but she is remembered for her passionate and free lifestyle and for her breathtaking art.
Why The “Frida Kahlo of India”?
The origins of Amrita Sher Gil are mixed: the daughter of a Hungarian opera singer and a Sikh aristocrat, she grew up in Budapest and visited India several times during the Thirties.
This allowed her to experiment by mixing her traditions with western influences and to revolutionize Indian painting, resulting to her being compared to Frida Kahlo, also because of her rebellious and independent behavior, contrasting with the period she lived in.
The early artworks
Amrita Sher Gil started painting in Europe, and her early works are especially influenced by her connections with the bohemian circles she attended in Paris. But one of her teachers noticed that the colors she used and the lines she drawed didn’t belong to the West; later, she declared: “I can only paint in India. Europe belongs to Picasso, Matisse… India belongs only to me.”
The Indian influence
After she explored her native country, her style was influenced by both the Indian classical art – so full of rich colors and shapes – and the empathy she felt for the subjects of her paintings.
Her portraits – and self-portraits – are so intense that they might even be mistaken for pictures!
Amrita Sher Gil’s legacy
The Indian-European painter has become a symbol of women’s emancipation and has also influenced many generations of Indian artists.
Her works have been declared as National Art Treasures by the Government of India, and she also got to have one of her paintings (Hill Women) depicted on an Indian stamp in 1978.
Amrita’s art is so important for India that the government has ordered for it to stay in the country! Most of her works are kept in New Delhi’s National Gallery of Modern Art, and less than ten of them have been sold abroad.