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The Sunday Tribune

Cobweb in my head, 2018 (Detail)
Watercolor pencil & graphite on paper
32 3/4″ x 25 1/2″

Artist Anjum Singh passes away following battle with cancer

Eminent contemporary Indian artist Anjum Singh passed away on Tuesday after losing a prolonged battle with cancer, art collector Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, said. She was 53.

“Anjum Singh was a wonderful artist who passed away after a long but brave and courageous battle with cancer,” she told PTI.

Born to renowned artists Arpita and Paramjit Singh, art came naturally to Singh, but she started her professional journey as an artist with a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Kala Bhawan, Santiniketan, followed by a Masters degree in the subject from College of Art, New Delhi.

Her last show “I Am Still Here” that was held last year at the Talwar Gallery here, documented through her own paintings her journey of living with cancer, which she was first diagnosed with in 2014. 

“Today Anjum left us after a six and a half year courageous battle with cancer. She leaves a void that will forever remain so, but her art, her smile and tenacity to fight will remain, in our hearts and more,” the Delhi-based gallery wrote on Instagram.

The show, said curator Ranjit Hoskote, was “a poignant affirmation of presence, surprise, and the survivor’s determination”.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of Anjum Singh’s passing at 53, no age to go. She fought cancer over six years; her last exhibition, held a year ago, was titled ‘I am still here’, a poignant affirmation of presence, surprise, the survivor’s determination. Rest in peace, Anjum,” he wrote on Twitter.

Expressing her condolences, Nadar said Singh would continue to live on through her work which was “independently noteworthy”.

“Her exhibition last year entitled ‘I am still here’ brought together a personal and passionate set of works that focused largely inwards as she grappled with her disease of the last few years. Our condolences go out to the whole family, she will remain alive through her work,” the KNMA founder said.

Singh also trained at The Corcoran School of Art, Washington DC from 1992 to 1994, and was a recipient of the Charles Wallace Fellowship, which led her to work at Gasworks, London in 2002-2003.

Her works are in the collections of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art and have been on view at Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, and at The San Jose Museum of Art, California.

Renowned Hindi writer and trustee of the Raza Foundation Ashok Vajpeyi remembered Singh as an artist with “an intense aesthetic vision and innovative zeal”.

“The Raza Foundation deeply mourns the passing away of Anjum Singh. She emerged as a distinctive painter of the young generation, with an intense aesthetic vision and innovative zeal.

“She struggled bravely with a killing disease. Her parents, the well known painters Arpita Singh and Paramjit Singh have suffered a grievous loss. The Raza Foundation is with them in this tragic moment,” the poet wrote on Facebook.

Singh’s works were recognisable in her use of bright colours, which were recurrent in her works on the continued degradation of the environment.

She was inspired by the “simple and mundane” element of the life that surrounded her, recalled curator Roobina Karode.

“Simple and mundane forms engaged Anjum. With cheerful colours she articulated the apathy towards erosion of the environment. A quest on corporeal vulnerability occupied her works right from her student days in Santiniketan, until her long and painful battle with cancer that she fought so bravely.

“Her solo exhibition, ‘I am still here’ showcased deeply sensitive works expressing fragility and delicacy,” the KNMA director said.

Artist Jayasri Barman took to Instagram to remember the late artist’s “poignant and powerful” work.

“Anjum’s art had the beautiful ability to portray pain into a collective experience. They were poignant, and powerful. Extremely saddened to use ‘had’ for her. It pains me to think of her wonderful parents...Praying for her soul,” she wrote.

Khoj Studios, a not- for-profit, contemporary arts organisation of which Singh was a former member, also mourned her loss.

“It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to our incredibly talented friend and artist Anjum Singh. Her association with Khoj began in the year 2000, when as a member of Khoj , she also attended the Khoj workshop at Modinagar. She was an integral part of the Khoj family in thought and spirit.

Anjum, you will be thoroughly missed but your work, your courage and tenacity will remain with us. Rest in Peace,” the organisation said.

Politician Derek O’Brien also expressed his condolences on Twitter: “Gone too soon. One of the brightest from the Indian art world. Anjum Singh, 53. Her powerful and moving final exhibition of her work is titled ‘I am still here.’ Condolences to her parents, artists extraordinaire, Paramjit Singh and Arpita Singh. Travel well, Anjum,” he wrote.