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Sold for Rs 9.6 cr,Arpita Singh’s painting puts women artists on top

It Is time to celebrate the feminine mystique,now that artist Arpita Singh’s painting Wish Dream has gone for Rs 9.6 crore at the Saffronart online auction.

Written by Georgina Maddox | New Delhi |
December 11, 2010 12:07:17 am

It Is time to celebrate the feminine mystique,now that artist Arpita Singh’s painting Wish Dream has gone for Rs 9.6 crore (USD 2.24 million) at the Saffronart online auction,which concluded last night. This development has made her the most- valued woman artist in India,a record that was previously held by Bharti Kher.

The unique oil-on-canvas,which was painted in 2001,comprises 16 individual canvases that makes it about 287×159 inches in size — a large work for an artist who is not very prolific and,therefore,a rare collectors’ item.

Singh,who was born in Bangladesh,says that auction prices are not her primary concern as a painter.

“Yes,in a way it is good that our own society is supporting our art and artists,but people who follow my work will have the same outlook of me despite the increased price tag. However,people who do not know me and my work may react only to the prices,” says the 73-year-old artist,who prefers to spend time at her Nizamuddin home studio with her spouse and fellow artist Parmajit Singh.

“I think it’s great that Arpita is leading the way for women artists’ work to be priced in parallel with all the male artists,who have been dominating the market for years. It’s time women artists got their due,” says Dinesh Vazirani,the director of Saffronart. Noting that the collector base supports women artists,he adds,“The market is strong within the country,given that the buyer of the work was of Indian origin. This is a moment in history.”

Though her solo exhibition at the Vadehra Art Gallery has just concluded,the new market price would definitely hike the demand for Singh’s work. “Arpita is one of the best minds in Indian art. She has always been aesthetically acclaimed by senior artists such as M F Husain and the late Swaminathan,in addition to established art critics. It is great to see that she is now receiving well-deserved commercial acknowledgement,” says Parul Vadehra,director of the Vadehra Art Gallery.

Singh believes her works,which have been judged as feminist by critics and writers,should display a power of their own. “I like my paintings to exude power. Whether I am painting a woman or a horse,it is important for them to be strong characters,” the artist says.

Art critic Roobina Karode reads her work as “layered with tragic metaphors. Her woman protagonists in their bounded domestic space are shown as vulnerable to intrusions and unwanted memories”.

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