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Arpana Art Gallery, Siri Fort Road

Arpana Fine Arts Gallery falls under the ambit of Academy of Fine Arts and Literature. The academy itself, a non-profit organization, was founded in the year 1975 by the mother- daughter duo, Ajeet Cour and Arpana Caur. Since their humble beginnings in 1975 which saw them brining underprivileged girls to their flat for providing them with basic education, hygiene lessons, vocational training and general empowerment, they have a come a long way since.

Today, The Arpana Fine Art Gallery reflects the Indian culture through its visual medium of Contemporary Art, Museum of Rare Ancient Miniatures, Tribal Art and Crafts and Aparna Caur’s art work.  Many of the artwork displayed at the Gallery belongs not just to renowned artists but also to struggling artists, who have great potential but come from an underprivileged background. Thus, this collection of art is rare. It brings together, an eclectic mix of urban and indigenous work of art.

Museum of Arpana’s Art

The gallery’s permanent displays include Arpana Caur’s Museum, where her art work from different periods is on display. Her work strives to amalgamate the Indian Contemporary and the Ancient Indian Heritage.

Fascinated by the rich Indian heritage, Arpana’s work brings the tradition of India into a contemporary art context. Her art work also reflects the philanthropic concerns like violence, environmental issues and spiritual quests. When one looks at her paintings, once comes across the female cast in an urban context in many of them. There is nothing overtly feminine about the females but it does symbolically express the eternal bond of life that a woman perpetuates. Her art is inspired by the issues and concerns that one sees around everyday such as violence against women and women emancipation. But the women in her paintings are always shown as strong and powerful. They are only obstructed by tradition.

Her paintings in the museum include “Traveller Day and Night, Juggler” and many more.

On a separate note, Arpana’s Murals, Sculptures and Installations have been widely applauded for their social theme. Her famous installation, ‘Tears of Hiroshima’, 1994, makes an instant impact. It shows the tears drops with pots underneath on one side of a weighing scale and a painting of the destroyed city to another with the scales tipping in favor of the tears. The concept of using different forms of art to pay this tribute is laudable.

Museum of Rare and Ancient Miniatures

Arpana’s love for this ancient form of Miniature Art began during her family’s violence ridden days of Partition. Her grandfather, an art connoisseur himself, brought with him a few Janam Sakhis (ancient books of Guru Nanak) from Pakistan.
Very soon, her affinity to Punjabi Art transformed her into a collector of these rare books. But the going was not easy as these books were very expensive. It was only in the 1900’s when the Indian Art scene saw its golden days, was she able to buy originals and start restoration work on them. The whole process took three long years, but it was well worth the effort. She even penned a book, “The Magic of Indian Miniature”.

Museum of Folks and Tribal Arts

A museum completely dedicated to showcasing the art work of tribal and natives of India, bringing to the fore a lost world that exists in anonymity. The museum is divided into four sections of Paintings, Sculptures and Decorative Art Form, Images from Abroad and Tantra.

Arpana feels that the ancient forms of the arts, though now evolved, certainly need aid and guidance for their sustenance. The museum supports such artists by providing them with yearly scholarships. There are over 600 forms of paintings and sculptures collected over 30 long years. Not only that, the museum boasts of many contemporary themes like the Hiroshima Aids, Tsunami, Osama and even the Hindu epics ironically painted by talented Muslim artists. The Decorative Art Forms include Turkish and Egyptian Vessels, The Head of Buddha from Cambodia and much more. The Tantra section has many paintings depicting The Tantric female deity, nature of Kumbha rashi, Mahishasura, Cosmic magnification and many more.

About the Artist

Arpana has been exhibited since 1974 all over the world. Her solos in India were held in Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Calcutta and Chennai. Across the globe, her solos include New York, Munich, London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Glasgow, Berlin, Singapore and Copenhagen National Museum. Her museum keeps Miniature Art alive and is the best collections one can find anywhere in India nowadays. They include Miniature paintings, litho and prints of antique value, rare photographs and other forms of indigenous paintings from Kashmir, Pahari, Deccani, Rajasthani and Mughlai paintings.

She was commissioned by Bangalore and the city of Hamburg to execute non commercial murals in public places and also by the Hiroshima Museum of Modern Art to execute a large art for its permanent collection for the 50th anniversary of the holocaust in 1995. She also executed three non commercial murals in Delhi and one in Kathmandu.

She was a staggering number of awards to her credit. Some of the awards she bagged into her pocket are as follows:

  • All India Fine Art and Craft Society Award in 1985
  • Commendation Certificate at the Algiers Biennale
  • Gold Medal at the Sixth Tiennale India in 1986
  • Nominated by the Lalit Kala Akademi as an Eminent Artist (1990,’91,’92)

She has also been filmed, written about and many PhD and M.Phil students have studied her art work for their dissertation. From being a Jury Member of National Exhibition, New Delhi and Republic Day Pageants, she also sits on the Advisory Committee of National Gallery of Modern Art Delhi.


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