Amrita Sher-Gil Painting Style & Famous Artworks

Amrita Sher-Gil, famously known as the “Indian Frida Kahlo”, was a Hungarian-Indian Painter born on 30th January 1912 in Budapest, Hungary. She got trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Having been expelled from her convent school because she declared herself an atheist, Amrita received formal education and began to draw at the tender age of 8. The exhibition titled “Amrita Sher-Gil: Portraits and Reveries” is a culmination of her artwork from the early 1920s, her teen years.

The central theme of her paintings is women. Through her stunning canvas abilities to portray the everyday lives of Indian ladies in the ’90s, her work was acclaimed the world over. She was a pioneer of modern Indian art. Amrita Sher-Gil’s artwork talks about ladies attending a wedding, ladies walking to the market, housewives at home. Her paintings depict women, and also women bonding with other women.

Famous Artwork by Amrita Sher-Gil

  • Amrita Sher-Gil Self Portraits

From the year 1930, Sher-Gil painted a series of self-portraits capturing her many moods. This particular piece is a rarity in her series of self-portraits given its seductive and exuberant aura.

  • Bride’s Toilet

Bride’s Toilet was part of the South Indian trilogy. This painting was inspired by the classical tradition of the Ajanta murals. Sher-Gil painted the image with a large group of figures and used a richly diverse palette to portray them. Amrita created this masterpiece in the year 1937.

  • Three Girls

The first work in the Amrita Sher-Girl paintings after returning to India from Europe in 1934, this painting won the Gold Medal at the annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society in 1937. Also referred to as “Group of Three Girls”, this painting shows three colorfully dressed women pondering over a destiny they are unable to change.

  • In the Garden

In the Garden is from the latter phase and is an exquisite example of the universal appeal of Sher-Gil’s magnum opus.

  • Hungarian Gypsy Girl

Sher-Gil created this painting in 1932 during a summer vacation in the Hungarian village of Zebegery. This is one of the masterpieces that capture the brilliance of Sher-Gil’s captivating strokes. However, certain historians who had recorded Amrita Sher-Gil’s works in Hungary claim that it is not confirmed if or not this painting was created in Hungary or elsewhere.

Sher-Gil was amongst the leading pioneers of the modern movement in Indian art. Most of her work during her life in Budapest was done with pencil, charcoal, graphite, and moderate use of watercolors. However, during her time in India, she broke the stagnation of Indian paintings of that time and played with rampant and bold colors that were missing in the pale hues of her contemporaries.

Her incessant desire to connect with her Indian roots was visible in her paintings. Her later works were done using bright colors and deep shadows, a testimony to the inner conflict between her European and Indian identity. Moving away from her European upbringing, her later works embraced the Indian style of art.  Her visits to the caves of Ajanta and Ellora, and South India, brought about a dramatic change in her painting style.

Sher-Gil famously wrote sometime in the 1930s, “I can only paint in India. Europe belongs to Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and many others. India belongs only to me.”

January 22, 2021

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