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Preparatory Assertions Notes from Sketch Books

Anupam Sud


Anupam Sud is one of the finest printmakers in India and over the years her oeuvre has dealt largely in the medium of intaglio prints and more recently paintings on large canvases. But her creative curiosities have inexorably driven her to experiment with paper as a medium. She gave me the opportunity to access the private space of her visual archive - a world of memories and narratives associated with each selected work lay open to delve into through sketch-books and backs of invitation cards. Filtered through the device of stylistic variations and chronological sifting, the exhibition in its entirety stands as a visual testimony of the artists autobiographical voice, feminine ethos, and experimentations captured both in minuscule and large frames. I hope that the viewer will experience a similar visual fulfillment visiting the works as we had in selecting and exhibiting them. Bhavna Kakar New Delhi, 2011

Untitled, 7 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper, 1997

Preparatory Assertions: Notes from Sketch Books


One indirect consequence of the valorization of the exhibition-worthy, finished artwork is that the viewing audience rarely gets to see the ideational phase of an artists working method; the tentative visual probing (which often takes months) before an art work is finally realized. More often than not hesitant, fragmented, unclear and continually selfdiffering, sketch book notations are sites of confessional outpourings and are thus rarely shared by artists as exhibitory objects. Small in size and often tucked away as a reminder to be recalled when struggling for mental triggers, these visual markings signify a state of flux over the stability of the realized work; the very antithesis of completeness. The preparatory sketch thus offers insights into a work that is akin to entering into an openended conversation with an artist, through which nuggets of information regarding the creative process may be gleaned. In case of an artist of the stature of Anupam Sud- with decades of work behind herranging from monochromatic etchings to intimate watercolors and monumental canvas paintings, the works on view offer a thread of continuity between each method. As a variation from her meticulously executed etchings using the starkness of a black and white palette and the precision of an engraved line (where each mark is final and almost impossible to revise or erase), or her densely built up canvases, a look at her watercolors and sketches, reveals an exploratory, fluid, questioning process. In making public her sketches and drawings, which prefigure her painstakingly, elaborated paintings and etchings, she offers us insights into how she has developed her figurative lexicon over the years. Mostly comprising of softly shaded drawings, overlaid with an aqueous layering of color, yet at times scoured over with graphically violent linear markings, these works, address a number of themes. Of these, several are directly connected to fully realized etchings and paintings, the studied outcomes of reflection, contemplation, and the resolving of subject matter, while a small but significant number are self-introspective drawings of her own visage; as if seeking through this act of peering into a mirror and drawing, a way of self-realization in order to set up a relationship between the self and the other. It is this incessant obsession with self portraiture that helps us link the other drawings with Anupams life quite directly. She has rarely introduced a recognizable resemblance to her own self in her etchings.

However, in her paintings, she often does introduce her own presence as a form of witnessing or self-introspection. Often she weaves her personal experiences into the narratives as a way of fixing memory and feelings. For example,in this body of work we see references to a loved ones suffering caused by prolonged debilitating illness, a portrait of her father, themes of urban alienation, anxieties about the uterine reproductive economynow harnessed to artificial technologies of conception and birth, and perhaps the most pronounced thematicthe tedium of socially fixed roles demanded of women in patriarchal societies. This final theme, might seem odd given the fact that on a personal level, Anupam herself belongs to a generation that came of age, when women were beginning to question the illusory promises of romantic fulfillment and economic stability through marriage and were instead seeking a professionally assertive role for themselves as creative and independent beings, unwilling to accept a place within the natural order of things. However in her social life within a middleclass household, she was constantly made aware of the contracted role offered to women as domestically enslaved subjects with their maternal, reproductive function their primary role. The subsequent disciplining of the female body, subjected to constant social injunctions on how to behave and the regulatory mechanisms that were put into place to limit their potential were familiar situationsmore so because she came to be a pioneering figure in an institutional art world, dominated by men. Her drawings of women confined in bottles or else huddled into a fetal position, retreating into a protective space, are thus metaphoric evocations of the social closures which often confine and bind women down. On the other hand, in her mediated response to her social world, the publically known body of workher etchings and paintings, in their preparatory drawings- she emphasises on women and their place in the world, their fleshiness, their constantly changing, protruding, sagging, shorn of hair physicality, their way of glancing/not glancing/ being subjected to invasive glancing, their physical comportment within the social landscape. Here, each image challenges and tests the patriarchal practice of confining women to the home and corralling them to preserve their virtue and limit their potential as active agents. Shukla Sawant October 2011, New Delhi

Untitled, 11.5 x 7 inches, pencil on paper, 1966

Celebration, 35 x 45 inches, mixed media on paper, 2001

Untitled, 3.75 x 8 inches, mixed media on paper, 1991

Flute Player, 3.7 x 9 inches, watercolor on paper, 1999

Untitled, 4 x 9 inches, watercolor on paper, 1 of 2, 1999

Untitled, 3.7 x 9 inches, watercolor on paper, 2 of 2, 1999



Untitled, 7 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper, 1999

Untitled, 4.5 x 6 inches, ink on paper, 1999



Untitled, 12 x 16 inches, watercolor on rice paper, 2009

Untitled, 7 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper


Untitled, 11 x 6 inches, water color on paper, 2002




Untitled, 9.5 x 13.5 inches, pastel on paper, 1993

Untitled, 12.2 x 10 inches, mixed media on paper, 1989

Untitled, 10.5 x 8.5 inches, pastel on paper, 1992

Untitled, 9.5 x 13.5 inches, mixed media on paper, 1994



Untitled, 6.75 x 7 inches, ink on paper

Untitled, 5.25 x 8.75 inches, watercolor on paper




Untitled, 7 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper

Untitled, 7 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper

Untitled, 7 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper

Untitled, 7 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper


Untitled, 32 x 17.5 inches, watercolor on paper, 1990




Untitled, 5.5 x 4.5 inches, mixed media on paper

Untitled, 6 x 5 inches, mixed media on paper, 1996

Untitled, 8.75 x 7.5 inches, watercolor on paper, 2000


Untitled, 26.25 x 12 inches, watercolor on paper, 2009 and 2011.




Untitled, 4.25 x 7 inches, watercolor on paper, 2003

Untitled, 13.5 x 9.5 inches, mixed media on paper, 2010



Cat has 7 lives, 39 x 25 inches, watercolor on paper, 1995 and 2003

Challenged Premise, 39 x 26.5 inches, watercolor on paper, 2011


Page from his Sketchbook, 29 x 44 inches, mixed media on paper, 2011



Untitled, 6.75 x 6.75 inches, chemical and ball point in paper mixed, 2000


Born in Hoshiarpur in Punjab in 1944, Anupam Sud did her diploma in Fine Arts from the College of Art, New Delhi in 1967, specializing in printmaking. Anupam was the youngest member of Group 8, an association of artists at the college that was founded by Anupams teacher Jagmohan Chopra, and was dedicated to furthering an awareness of printmaking in India. She acknowledges many influences in her life: her father who had a love for bodybuilding, detective stories, Punjabi theatre, and her mother who appreciated classical music and read the Upanishads. She also grew as an artist under the guidance of Somnath Hore in Delhi, whose work she closely related to. With a British Council scholarship she studied printmaking at the Slade School of Art, London (197172). It was after her return from Slade that she developed an intense interest in exploring human figures through the medium of etching. Working mainly with intaglio prints, Sud fuses her knowledge of different intaglio processes with lithography and screenprinting. Since 1967 till 2007, she has had 17 solo shows in India and USA. From 1968 to 1996, she participated in 34 national and international exhibitions which included Womens, International Exhibition, New York (1975), the Florence Triennale and the Third Triennial, Fourth and Fifth Biennale, Valparaiso, Chile (1979, 81), International Print Biennale, Ljubljana (1981, 83), Fifth Triennial, India, and in Switzerland, the Sixth Norwegian Print Biennale (1982), British Print Biennale, Bradford (1985), Printmaking in India since 1850, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (1986), the Eight International Print Biennale, Berlin (1987), International Print Biennale, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal (1995). She curated the Mini Print 96 show on behalf of Gallery Espace, New Delhi. Anupam attended five print workshops, two of which were conducted under Paul Lingren and Carol Summers (1970, 1974). In 1989 she represented India at the printmaking workshop of Asian countries at the Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan, worked in professional workshops in New York and Berkeley (1996) and conducted a printmaking workshop in Ottawa, Canada (1990). Anupam Sud has won several awards between 1973 and 2001. In 1990, the Centre for International Contemporary Art (CICA), New York, awarded her with a study and traveling fellowship in printmaking in the USA, and she won the President of Indias Gold Plaque at the Womens International Art Exhibition, New Delhi (1975), and the Kala Ratan Award by AIFACS (2001). Her works are in many private collections as well as the NGMA, Delhi; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Peabody Museum, USA; Fukuoka Museum, Japan; and the Glenbarra Art Museum, Japan. Anupam Sud lives and works in Mandi, a small community on the outskirts of New Delhi.

Gayatri Sinha, Transgression in Print, Palette Art Gallery, 2007 ISBN 978-81-906029-0-7 Amrita Jhaveri, A Guide to 101 Modern and Contemporary Indian Artists, 2005 ISBN 817508-423-5 Neville Tuli, Indian Contemporary Painting, Hary N. Abrams Incorporated, 1998, ISBN 0-8109-3472-8 Geeti Sen (editor), Anupam Sud: Four Decades, Transgression in Print, Palette Art Gallery, 2007 ISBN 978-81-906029-0-7

Untitled, 10.5 x 7 inches, pencil on paper, 2007

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CATALOGUE Latitude 28, 2011 ESSAY Shukla Sawant DESIGN Akshay Raj Singh Rathore PRINTED AT Archana, CURATORIAL COORDINATION: Suruchi Khubchandani COORDINATION: Annabel Schenck, Nidhi Awasty

Latitude 28 @ India Art Collective 2011 Latitude 28 F 208 GF, Lado Sarai New Delhi 110030 T: +91-11-46791111, M: 9310830690
19 26 November 2011

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Continuum: Encapsulating the best of Indian Contemporary Art

1 - 4 December 2011 The ARTrium@ MICA, Singapore

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25 29 January 2012 curated by Jasmine Wahi- General Exhibitor Booth F6 Solo Booth S5 Dilip Chobisa Sculpture Park Siddhartha Kararwal

And the Falchion Passed through his Neck

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Anjali Bhargava, Chitra Ganesh, Divya Mehra, Samira Abbassy, Sangeeta Sandrasegar, Hamra Abbas, Shweta Bhattad

ISBN 978-81-922782-0-9
front & back cover (detail) : Untitled, 5 x 7 inches, Pen on paper