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Asma Menon

Chennai, India Born 1961
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Acquired a BSC in Visual Communication (1983) and a Masters Degree in Fine Arts (2001) at the Government College of Arts & Crafts, Chennai

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Artist of the Month Solo Exhibition, Cholamandal Artist Village Gallery, Chennai (2011); Sayani, Kalakriti, Hyderabad (2004); Sayani, Pitanga Culture Centre, Pondicherry (2003); The Living Wall Exhibition, British Council, Chennai (2001); Genesis Art Foundation, Chennai (2000); Prithvi Art Gallery, Mumbai (1999); Goethe Institute, Max Muller Bhavan, Chennai (1998); Gallery Mount Castle, Colombo, Sri Lanka (1998); The Easel, Chennai; R&B Cafe Gallery, Bangalore (1995)


Selected Group Exhibitions

Panchamukhi Group Show, Vernissage Art Gallery, Cochin (2010); Spring, The Noble Sage Art Gallery, UK (2008); 'She India', The Noble Sage, London (2007); Galerie LEtang dArt, Bages, France (2007-8); Farley Yard Trust, East Sussex, United Kingdom (2007); She India, The Noble Sage, London (2007);Chennai Excite, The Noble Sage, London (2006); 1001 Rupie, Two-person show, NT Art Gallery, Bologna, Italy (2006); Essence A Group Show of Chennai Artists, Ashvita Art Gallery, Chennai (2005); Quattro Four Artists of Chennai, Artworld, Chennai (2005); International Biennale of Mini-Prints, Barcelona, Spain (2005); Women@art, The Forum Art Gallery, Chennai (2005); Contemplations Women Artists of India, Gallery Sara Arakal, Bangalore and Habitat Centre, New Delhi (2004); Feminine Eye Exhibition, Gallery Sara Arakal, Bangalore (2004); Anniversary Art Show, Art World, Chennai (2003);Inaugural Art Exhibition, Gallery Sara Arakal, Bangalore (2003); Exhibition of Indian Art, organized by Gallery Sumukha, Texas, USA (2002); Of Birds, Gods and Goddesses, Lakshana Art Gallery, Hyderabad (2002); Affordable Art Exhibition, Vinayasa Art Gallery, Chennai (2001-2); Regional Art Exhibition, Lalit Kala Akademi, Kerala (2001); 'Ceramics and Works on Paper, Art World, Chennai (2001); International Print Triennale, Kanagawa, Japan (2001); International Triennale of Prints, Egypt (1999); Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1999); Southern Stars Exhibition, Art World, Chennai (1998); Mini-Triennale of Prints, Poland (1997); The 85th Independent International Exhibition of Prints, Japan (1995)


Selected Awards

Vijay Rattan National Award for artist contribution to society (2005); Winner of Visual Arts category, Women Achievers Awards, Chennai (2001)

'There is no difference between a male artist and a female artist... An artist is an artist and the difference is only in the subject matter.'

For the nomad
Every morning
Of all seasons
Fills life
With a promise
Of future dreams.

'It is our curiosity as artists that we seek new lands in our works. Life as an artist is akin to clairvoyance. Delving deep into the conscious and sub terrains of the psyche. It is this unending fathomless ocean that gives rise to artistic passions. These gifts are an expression of oneself, in these creations one express what lies within ones natural talent. And thus is born a work of art. As an artist and a woman I feel akin to the embodiments bestowed on Pandora, for without curiosity where would my work be, for without love how would one express, for without creativity how would I journey in my caravan of dreams and hopes.'?
- Asma Menon
A student of Chennai artists, R.B. Bhaskaran and Alphonso Doss, Asma Menon's art is easy to mistake as simple illustration or playful, faux naive painting. In fact her work is the culmination of years of research into the world of mythology, religion and mystical storytelling. Her art is animated, colourful and magical though also deeply meaningful and sympathetic to those elements of pictorial story telling that we as humans have enjoyed for all eternity. With the gift of a gypsy tea-leaf reader, Menon moves freely between fables, myths, personal stories and allegories in her paintings, constantly connecting, mixing and overlapping her brew on the canvas.It is clearly the idea of pictures telling us truths about our own world that spurs Menon's work; the balance between what we understand through recognisable cultural symbols and what we understand through narrative explanation or self-explication. The role and image of women, particularly the multicultural and trans-deistic concept of Earth Mother, take an especially important position in her paintings. Within her highly patterned, some would say un-prettified, paintings stand other images of women: Lakshmi the Hindu Goddess, a mermaid, a wanton woman of the night, a Rapunzel-type princess, and a dancer from 'Swan Lake'. They live in Menon's vibrant, hyper-realistic Narnia-like landscape complete with castles, tombstones, archways, abundant flora and trees, birds and animals, dancing children and mythical dragons. When Menon describes the content of one of her beautiful and complex canvases, it sounds similar to how she describes her own life.

With her normal flamboyant palette, Menon has created three still-life paintings of similar size and composition, all with their own individuality though even stronger seen together as a set. They occurred, she explains, during a time of great change. She states: 'the flowers are offerings. At every stage of life all across borders, flowers speak of many emotions and events. This new stage of life for me has resulted in an enormous urge to express myself through the vivid colours of the seasonal changes around me. Like the Empress [a common character in her work], I continue with love, strength and creativity, my mind intrepid as to the many adventures in store for me. I embrace all this. with the fragrance and beauty of life in full bloom.'