A ‘Pioneer’ in modern Indian Art, Amrita Sher gil is one of the most celebrated and acclaimed artists of the 20th century. Her oil painting ‘ Young girls’ earned her much fame and is renowned all over the world.
About the Artist:
Sher-Gil was born on 30th January 1913, in Hungary, to Umrao Singh Sher-Gil and Marie Antoinette Gottesman. Her formal art lessons had started from the very young age of eight. In 1923, she along with her mother moved to Italy where she enrolled at Santa Annunziata, Florence. However, she did not stay there for too long and returned to India in 1924.
Sher-Gil was sixteen when she shifted to Paris to train as a painter. At first, she worked under Pierre Vaillent and Lucien Simon at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and later at École de Beaux-Art. Amrita Sher-Gil travelled widely throughout her life . Her work mainly revolved around the daily lives of women of her time. Her paintings mostly reflect various female sentiments and emotions through facial expressions of varying intensity. Sher-Gil’s emphasis on women, earned her the title ‘Indian Frida Kahlo’.
The “Young Girls” painting is one of the early work of Amrita Sher-Gil. She painted it in the year 1932 and quite skilfully exhibited the influence of Western art techniques and colouring patterns. The painting illustrates two youthful girls seated beside one another in a quiet European ambience. Their body postures are completely in contrast to each other suggesting the distinctive personality traits of the artist. The painting portrays Sher-Gil’s sister Indira in a contemporary European attire with a look of confidence in her aura as she sits facing her friend Denise Proutaux.
Denise sits with her head slightly tilted in a very compliant manner. She is partially unclothed and her long golden tresses obscuring her face. Sher-Gil’s painting very beautifully reflects the contrasting characters of the subjects, in turn indicating the shifts of the artist’s persona. She depicts her sister Indira’s outgoing and sociable nature via her bold and straight physical composure as she sits like a lady. Her hair neatly done in an up-do reveals her face, indicating the confidence in her character. In contrast to that, the open hair of Denise reflects the reserved and meek nature of Sher-Gil that she had somewhere inside of her. Proutaux’s posture gives the viewer a sense of shyness and submission which perhaps was another aspect of the artist’s personality.
The Oil painting received a gold medal in 1933 . Sher-Gil was elected as an Associate of the Grand Salon in Paris. She became the youngest member ever and the only Asian to have
received the honor.