Anjolie Ela Menon (born 1940) is one of India‘s leading contemporary artists. Her paintings are in several major collections. In 2006 her work “Yatra” was acquired by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, California. Her preferred medium is oil on masonite, though she has also worked in other media, including glass and water colour. She is a well known muralist. She was awarded the Padma Shree in 2000. She lives and works in New Delhi.
Anjolie Ela Menon was born on 17 July 1940, in Burnpur, Bengal [now in West Bengal] India of mixed Bengali and American parentage. She went to Lawrence School, Lovedale in the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu. By the age of 15, when she left school, she had already sold a few paintings. Thereafter, she briefly studied at the Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai and later earned a degree in English literature from Delhi University, where she studied at the women’s college, Miranda House. During this time, she was drawn to the works of Modigliani, and Indian painters, M F Husain and Amrita Shergil. At 18, she held a solo exhibition with fifty-three paintings of a variety of styles. She obtained a French Government scholarship to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1959 to 1961 and she travelled extensively in Europe and West Asia studying Romanesque and Byzantine art. During 1980-81, the governments of France, U.K. and US invited her to pursue further studies.
Anjolie Ela Menon’s preferred medium was oil on masonite, which she applied by using a series of translucent colours and thin washes. In addition to oil paintings and murals, she worked in several other mediums, including computer graphics and Murano glass. She is best known for her religious-themed works, portraits, and nudes that incorporated a vibrant colour palette and were rendered in a variety of styles ranging from cubism to techniques that recalled the artists of the European Renaissance. In 1997 she, for the first time displayed non-figurative work, including Buddhist abstracts. She represented India at the Paris, Algiers, and São Paulo Biennales and at three Triennales in New Delhi.
Being a well-known muralist, Anjolie Ela Menon has done over 35 solo shows and many group shows in India and abroad and in 1968, 1972 & 1975 she performed along with I, II, III International Triennale by Lalit Kala Akademi, with Paris Biennale, France in 1980 and in 1980 at New York & Washington D.C.
In the year 2000, Government of India conferred Anjolie Ela Menon with the most prestigious Padma Shri Award. She is on the board of trustees in IGNCA ( Gandhi National Centre for the Arts). In 2002, her work was shown in a major exhibition event at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai which eventually toured other towns including Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi. Her life and work has been featured in several publications and films made for CNN and Doordarshan Channels.
Anjolie married her childhood love, Raja Menon, an Indian Navy officer, who later retired as an Admiral. Since their marriage she has lived and worked in India, the US, Europe, Japan and the erstwhile USSR, and had over thirty five solo shows in these countries. She is a well known muralist and has represented India at several shows.
- The Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India in 2000.
- The Limca book of Records.
- Lifetime achievement award 2013 by government of NCT of Delhi
- Kalidas Samman, 2018 for Visual Arts from Madhya Pradesh government
Anjolie Ela Menon has had over thirty solo shows including at Black heath Gallery-London, Gallery Radicke-Bonn, Winston Gallery-Washington, Doma Khudozhinkov-USSR, Rabindra Bhavanand Shridharani Gallery-New Delhi, Academy of Fine Arts-Calcutta, the Gallery-Madras, Jehangir Gallery, Chemould Gallery, Taj Gallery, Bombay and Maya Gallery at the Museum Annexe, Hong Kong. A retrospective exhibition was held in 1988 in Bombay and she has participated in several international shows in France, Japan, Russia and USA In addition to paintings in private and corporate collections, her works have been acquired by museums in India and abroad.