In the mid-1960s, Arpita Singh worked as a designer at the Weavers Service Centre in Delhi. “We would visit the National Museum to study Kashmiri textiles. Looking at those great works of art I really began to understand what pattern was all about. I looked at other kinds of textiles too with an acuter awareness, at more contemporary ‘folk’ forms as well. A few years later when I started to paint once again these influences were there in my work.” (Arpita Singh quoted in N. Sheikh et al, Memory Jars, Bose Pacia, New York, 2003, p. 2) With thickly applied colour and a pronounced emphasis on the flatness of the picture plane, it almost appears as if the painted figures and heavily patterned backgrounds have been embroidered onto the surface of the canvas.
'The sheer unctuosity of oil paint becomes an infinitely malleable substance in her hands; she caresses and cajoles it, moulding the brightly coloured pigment that has been squeezed directly on the canvas until it acquires a matte and yet faintly glistening sumptuosity. The lovingly anointed surfaces their tactility, bespeak an artisan's love for her metier.' (D. Ananth, Arpita Singh, New Delhi, 2015, p. 41)
The bright colours, childish scrawlings, dream-like perspective, and comforting association with textiles evidenced throughout Singh’s oeuvre, all stand in sharp contrast to the charged themes that she explores. 'The psychological and the political merge in paintings by the New Delhi artist Arpita Singh. So do everyday life and allegory, expressionism and ornament, historical sources from Bengali folk painting to Marc Chagall, and a formal approach that is at once unassuming and hard-worked, gauche and poised.' (H.Cotter, 'Art in Review, Arpita Singh', New York Times, 3 October 2013).
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