Taking up art early, Anjolie Ela Menon sold her first painting by the age of fifteen. Born in Burnpur, West Bengal, she studied literature in Delhi before studying art at Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay, which she left midway to study in Europe. A scholarship enabled her to study at the Atelier Fresque, Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Art in Paris from 1959-61.
Recreating the translucent glazes of medieval Christian art that she is inspired by, Menon prepares a hard surface such as wood or Masonite by applying thin layers of paint, and then scrapes and repaints it over with translucent colours to finally arrive at a smooth, polished surface. Their evocative textures and jewel like colours create the haunting quality of her still, brooding figures.
Hers is a world of fantasy and make-believe, weaving surrealist dreams that are nonetheless hinged on reality. Yet, unlike the genre’s masters such as Marc Chagall or the surrealists, her fantasies remain fettered, rarely taking flight. Menon conjures up pictures that are necessarily feminine, deeply sentimental, and instantly attractive. She has exhibited widely in India and abroad. In 2000, she received the Padma Shri from the Government of India. Anjolie Ela Menon lives and works in New Delhi.