A retrospective of works by Anupam Sud

Restraint seems to be the keynote of Anupam Sud's work. While her sympathies and concerns are often feminist, a recurring theme in her work is the common human predicament. Her subjects are often introspective and fatalistic - existing in a world that is falling apart. These facets of her work are evident in her works on view at Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA), New Delhi where a retrospective of her works is being hosted by Palette art galley till the second week of December 2007.

Working mainly with intaglio prints, she fuses her knowledge of different intaglio processes with lithography and screen-printing. Her zinc plates breathe with a life, now suggesting the contours of a sculpture, now hinting at the warmth of oils.

Anupam Sud first studied at the College of Art, New Delhi and later learnt print-making at the Slade School, London, under a British Council scholarship. She also grew as an artist under the guidance of late Somnath Hore in Delhi, whose work she closely related to during her formative years.

Her work is different from that of traditional printmakers in that she does not rely on the monochromatic quality, inherent in this medium, to make a statement. Elaborating on her creative process, she has once commented: 'My print images can never convert into painterly images for the canvas, as the working body itself rebels. When images enter my mind, I see textures that belong either to etching or to painting. I see no easy conversions as the basic temperament of each process varies and so do ways of arriving at the end result.'

As one of the founder members of GROUP 8 (1968), Anupam Sud, with her printmaker colleagues, worked through this association to promote and sustain printmaking as an independent, expressive art form, which according to her, is very individualistic and physically demanding.

Drawing is the backbone of her work. The artist has once stated: 'With drawing, the journey of the mind begins and it webs stories around the theme that demand space to accommodate the monumental scale of the characters.' She draws on a zinc plate with a pointed tool, delineating her characters. Upon that, she etches out the gradations of tones, and the figures.

The decorative element is largely absent in her work. The artist has once stated that she does not want decorations to take away the strength of her characters. She rather enjoys painting taut human bodies. She prefers to etch the male and female bodies sans all gloss.

Anupam Sud has employed the intaglio process in all its variations, etching, dry point, combining it with the viscosity process and wiping technology. This has helped her in layering and texturing her work with a wide range of effects. She also has worked on multi-media prints where she has combined the etched image with lithographic or silk-screened images.

More metaphorical and subtle, her work has evolved in phases. Tracking her representation of figures, art critic Gayatri Sinha notes: 'Anupam Sud has moved through some distinct phases. In the mid1970s, architectural forms, limbs and human figures appear in a twilight world. In the late 1970s, preoccupation with the feminine subject prevailed, an approach common among contemporary women artists of the time. She placed these women frequently in positions of deprivation and exploitation, the body itself, young and desirable, becoming a zone of contest.

Several of these were images of degradation, and ran counter to the prevailing feminist credo. In a consciously representative phase, the urban poor and homeless of India were seen, sometimes only as a pair of neglected limbs. Later, themes of manipulation were depicted with clinical detachment.'

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