Thence by descent in 2013
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.” ( A. Singh quoted in N. Sheikh et al, Memory Jars, Bose Pacia, New York, 2003, p.2) Equipped with her newfound appreciation of weaving, embroidery and tapestry, Singh began to create quilt-like paintings, of which the current work, painted three decades later, is an excellent example. With thickly applied colour and a pronounced emphasis on the flatness of the picture plane, it almost appears as if the painted figures, vehicles and signs have been appliqued onto the surface of canvas.
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 ominous forewarning of the title Don’t Cross Central Park at Night which is branded across the canvas and the cowering nude female figure who lays above it, signal one such theme. The title of the work is borrowed from the poem Central Park (1987) by Octavio Paz, which was itself inspired by a painting, Belgian Surrealist Pierre Alechinsky’s Central Park (1975).
Singh, through her carefully crafted works, consistently comments on the growing dangers and insecurity of the society around her (from a women’s perspective). In an interview to Ella Datta in 1996, she articulated, “I am an admirer of Octavio Paz. There Is a line of his which I like, “Don't cross the central park at night.” I respond to the note 115 of warning that goes beyond the specific locale of Central Park in New York. The insecurity that I feel about life today is reflected in the choice of colours—the greys and browns…‘ (E. Dutta, Arpita Singh, CIMA Gallery, Calcutta, 1996, unpaginated)
Women are central to Singh’s work. This painting, beautifully executed and emotively charged, is a powerful example of Singh’s socially-motivated artistic production. It speaks broadly to the hardship, obstacles and violence faced by women in places stretching far beyond Central Park’s perimeter.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.