Why Amrita Sher-Gil’s wry nationalism is relevant
Her art was unprecedented in style and substance, and she too was unforgettable
Amrita Sher-Gil was not a likeable person, furnishing sharp opinions at a time when women in respectable society produced only sweet expressions and blinked. But then, she never aspired to join the ranks of respectable women, moulded instead by her own heady individuality. She could be vain (“Europe belongs to Picasso, Matisse, Braque and many others. India belongs only to me," she once declared), just as she could be horribly rude (“What an ugly little boy!" she said of Khushwant Singh’s toddler). And, as Malcolm Muggeridge, her one-time lover remembered, she was also rather “self-consciously arty", demanding recognition on precisely the terms she defined, damaging her own cause with unrestrained impetuosity.
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