About the Artist

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Born 1954, India

Arpana Caur, a Contemporary Indian Artist was in born 1954. She is a distinguished Indian painter and has been exhibited since 1974 across the globe. Her solos apart from Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Bangalore and Chennai have been held in galleries in London, Glasgow, Berlin, Amsterdam, Singapore, Munich, New York and in Stockholm and Copenhagen National Museum.

Her work can be seen in Museums of Modern Art in Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Dusseldorf, Singapore, Bradford, Stockholm, Hiroshima, MOCA LA, Peabody Boston, Asian Art Museum San Fransisco and Victoria and Albert Museum London. 

She has been extensively written about filmed, invited to various countries and awarded, including a gold medal in VIth International Triennele 1986 in Delhi. She was commissioned by Hiroshima Museum of Modern Art to execute a large work for its permanent collection for the 50th anniversary of the Holocaust in 1995, and by Bangalore city and the city of Hamburg to do large non-commercial murals in public spaces. Since 1981 she did three large non-commercial murals in Delhi. 

Today her paintings support several projects for the underprivileged, including free vocational training in the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature of which she along with her mother the renowned writer Ajeet Cour, is the Founder Member. She supports a leprosy home in Ghaziabad, and ration projects for poor and old widows.


‘What, then, is time? When nobody asks me, I know it. But when I try to explain it to someone, I don’t know it.’ This quotation from the father of Church Augustine is frequently mentioned when the phenomenon of time is discussed. Art has different access, explanations and presentations for it. In antique and medieval times, for instance, native narratives sequences of pictures are formed, sequences of scenes are collocated inn single picture, particularly in 14th and 15th century. Famous for this is Medici- cycle in Louvre Museum in Paris by Peter Paul Klee, Miro and Magritte did deal with the phenomenon of time many times; in particular surrealists like Dali, Max, Ernst and others up to Delveaux depicted different time layers as one single unit.
Arpana Caur affiliates to this prominent school of time explorers. ‘I’ m obsessed with the phenomenon of time, ‘she said once, and her pictures are witness to this obsession in many ways.
It seems we realize motifs in her paintings seemingly from classic art. Scissors are repeated symbol and remind us of the Fates, antique goddesses of destiny, who cut the thread of life when the time is due. The Norms, then, spin the thread, quite like many women toiling the distaff in Arpana’s pictures. Train- Tracks cross through mythical landscapes. Traffic lights are phase of order and timing. Everywhere you’ll find the river of time, form which powerful plants emerge or twisted dead trunks and branches submerge. A mediating yogi, oblivious of time and space, stands on one foot and ponders ascetically over spiritual eons.
However, Arpana wouldn’t come up as truly grand philosopher of painting when sufficing in such motifs, sets of classic s scenery. She pervades the phenomenon with quite a different intensity. Indian experience and conception of time differs from that of western world. There, time to karma and fate, which is renewed permanently and appears in varied complex forms; here: a teleological conception, time as a steady stream aiming at one goal. The idea of yuga, the Indian world era, encircles the chance to create time and recant it. In myth, fish-shaped grand Makhara belches time as lotus flower and retracts it. God Vishnu appears differently in each world – era to save it, to protect it from evil. But then he retires again to energizing slumber during in- between-the-eras, in a no-time.
Arpana’s picture haven’t elaborated ostensibly on this theme but cannot be received without. In her painting  The Lady Swimmer form the cycle The Legend of Sohni the realistic swimmer is shown against a black background, in which she merge and which engulfs her like a parting matter. Black as experience of firmness and static is counterbalanced by the river of time, passing behind the dark surface of rippled waves. A light splits the flow of motion realistically and concrete a Stop of discipline. The picture of the mediating yogi lures the spectator from proper surrounding into a timeless space. Arjuna is shown in the great rock relief at Mahabalipuram immersed in timeless and so does the mediator here. Flowering trees surround him and enlighten everything a live in glowing colors. But beneath him:  the black river, with floating branches, translucent, withered almost bodiless. The yogi is moved far from this world, no signs of sex, no emotions discernible on his almost transcendental face. He is kindred to figures of Buddha, which Arpana painted and drew in obsessive affection. Her figures recall sculptures from the Gupta-period: round, clear, full of spiritual power and bodily perfection. The enlightenment of Buddha, the thundering experience of Gautama Siddhartha in search of redemption, is portrayed by Arpana by contemporary means : like us drawing energy from the electric plug, the enlightenment of Buddha is experienced as plug-in. Energy spiritual  power and the world of growth and organics determine the active men in the pictures of Arpana. The women she portrays are influenced by the artistic activities of her mother, Ajeet Caur, a prominent author who writes in Punjabi; there are set to their fate and the tissue of the world. They weave and spin, they divide with organizing scissors the streams of the time and narration, and they are norms, fates, goddesses of destiny at once.
The activity of her great paintings of females is not limited to religious- philosophical significance but extends always into social and political significance. For example, in one of her recent paintings a walking woman leaves the precinct of her home in order to march away into the open, into the green, into active life. Yet she startled as tradition impedes her daring steps. The situation of Indian women, ad women in general, becomes intelligible and clear by timeless presentation.
Arpana’s visual narrations from several decades formed a block: the concrete versus the abstract. Arpana has always insisted in telling about thoughts and actions in her paintings. She follows thus the tradition of sequences of tales as they presented in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and also in the Punjab where she comes from. The way she tells stories is kindred to modern Indian- English literature as conceived by Salmaan Rushdie and Vikram Chandra. However, inside the Indian art circle and in the international world of painting Arpana represents an autonomous quality. She mixes different layers of time, linking them to differing methods of painting. Graphic elements are joined with illustrative and pictorial ones. Each of them aims at a different frame of presentation. Abstract and realistic merge without blending. Form and color gain importance. Smoothness and styling of the bodies lead to level of abstraction in the concrete, which we experience in similar way only in ancient Egyptian art. No wonder she shares the predilection for large eyes, ever mirrors of the soul.
Only few artists of the present India art scene have such an eminent influence and are present in all important art-centers of the world. Arpana’s paintings are to be found I England, Japan, Germany, the United States, and, Of course in India, in all major collections. Her positive, always active and soial oriented oeuvre obtains energy from immense pleasure In pictures and narrations bonded to time and space. Secular and spiritual aspects blend.
In Faust by J.W Goethe the protagonist conjures the spirit of earth: the latter, in describing himself defines almost the genius of Arpana:  ‘ so I am producing on the dashing loom of time, thus creating God’s living raiment.’
Ernst w Koelnsperger , 2004, translated By Dr Ernst Fuchs, Munich



1984  Research Grant from Lalit Kala Academy for painting in Garhi Studio, New Delhi
1985  All India Fine Arts Society Award
1986  Commendation Certificate in Algiers Biennele
1987  VI Triennele Gold Medal for Painting (International exhibition)
1989  Jury Member, National Exhibition, New Delhi
1990-02 Jury Member, Republic Day Pageants, New Delhi Nominated Eminent Artist by Lalit Kala Academy
1990-2000  Collaborated with Godna artist Sat Narain Pande and for the first time in India, co-signed works with him
1991-92  Purchase Committee Member, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
1995  Commissioned by Hiroshima Museum to execute a large work for its permanent collection on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Holocaust
1995-98  Selection Committee Member, Republic Day Pageants for Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India
2001  Advisory Committee Member : National Gallery of Modern Art Delhi, Lalit Kala Acadmey, and Sahitya Kala Parishad
2009  Chief Guest for Conferring B.F.A. degrees, Delhi College of Art Convocation
2010  Sikh Art and Film Foundation, New York : The Lifetime achievement award
2011  Rotary Club of Delhi : The Lifetime Achievement Award
2014  Limca Book of Records 25 Years


1975    Shridharani Gallery,New Delhi
1979    Rabindra Bhawan Gallery,New Delhi
1979     Gallery Arts 38,London
1980     Jehangir Gallery,Ottawa
1981     City Hall Gallery,Mumbai    
1982     Chapter Gallery,Cardiff
1982    Jehangir Gallery,Mumbai    
1982     October Gallery,London
1984     Ethnographic Museum,Stockholm    
1984     National Museum,Copenhagen
1984     Jehangir Gallery,Mumbai    
1985     Art Heritage,New Delhi
1985     Cymroza Gallery,Mumbai    
1997     October Gallery,London
1988     Art Heritage,New Delhi    
1991     Collins Gallery,Glasgow (touring exhibition in U.K.)
1993     Rabindra Bhawan Gallery,New Delhi    
1994    Cymroza Gallery    Mumbai
1996     Sakshi Gallery    Mumbai and Banglore    
1997     Arks Gallery    London
1998     Fine Art Resources    Berlin    
1998     Foundation for Indian Artists Galerie    Amsterdam
1998    Cymroza Gallery    Mumbai    
1999    CIMA Gallery    Kolkata
1999    Bose Pacia Gallery    New York    
2001    Academy of Fine Arts and Literature,New Delhi
2002     Cymroza Gallery    Mumbai    
2003     Academy of Fine Arts and Literature,New Delhi
2003     October Gallery,London    
2004     Galerie Mueller & Plate,Munich
2005     Mahua Gallery    Bangalore    
2007     Indigo Blue Gallery,Singapore
2009    Mural on Tiles for outer wall of SAARC Secretariat,Kathmandu    
2013     OED Gallery Kochi and gallery Veda,Chennai
2015    Arpana Art Gallery,New Delhi    
2016    Emami Gallery,Calcutta
2016    First Retrospective in National Gallery of Modern Art,Bangalore    


Participating in group shows of paintings, graphics and drawings since 1974
1981 Executed two large murals for India International Trade Fair, New Delhi
1984 First Indo-Greek Cultural Symposium and group shows, Athens and Delhi
1984, ’85 Group shows of Indian painters sent by NGMA (National Gallery of Modern Art), New Delhi, to Japan
1986 First Baghdad Biennele
1986 Cuba Biennele
1986 Algiers Biennele
1987 Curated exhibition of Women Artists Festivals of India, Moscow
1992 Paritcipated (invited by Max Mueller Bhawan) in ‘Encounter’, parallel to Kassel Documenta
1994 Selected for Osaka Print Tiennele, Japan
1994 Asian Art Show, Hiroshima Museum, Saytama Museum and Glenbarra Museum, Japan
1995 Noma Book Exhibition, Tokyo
1995 Indian Women Artists, U.K.
1997 Indian Women Artists, NGMA, New Delhi
1997 ‘Still LIFE’, ‘Landscape’ and ‘Images of Women’, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
1997 Bradford Museum Exhibition, 1997-98 CIMA Gallery, Kolkata
1997 ‘Tryst with Destiny’, Singapore Museum of Modern Art
1997 Executed large installation in Kassel for Project Gruppe Stoffweschel, ‘Tears for Hiroshima’
1997 Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, New Delhi
1998 Rotunda Gallery, Hong Kong
1998 Indo-Austrian group shows in Austria and NGMA, New Delhi and Mumbai
2000 Art Forum Gallery, Singapore and Australia
2000 Executed non commercial mural on ‘Environment’ in collaboration with German Artist Sonke Nissen in Delhi
2000 Executed mural on ‘Environment’ with German artist Sonke Nissen in New Delhi, and on ‘Time’ in Hamburg, Germany (Non commercial)
2001 Smithsonian Museum, Washington
2004 Indian Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Singapore and San Francisco
2005 Indigo Blue Gallery, Singapore
2004 Executed 5 large public murals in Bangalore (Non commercial public art) for Roerich Centenary
2007 UN show on Peace, Bali
2007 Museum of Modern Art, Moscow
2007 Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo
2007 Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
2008 Singapore Museum of Modern Art
2009 Asia Society, New York
2009 Beijing Biennale
2010 Louvre Carousel Gallery, Paris
2010 New York Public Library
2011 Indian Art Fair, Delhi
2012 Indian Art Fair, Delhi
2013 Indian Art Fair, Delhi
2013 ‘Confluence des Arts'  Group Show at Gallery Artchill, Amer Fort , Jaipur. 
2013 Group Show at Juneja Art Gallery, Jaipur
2014 ‘India -The Revealed Mysteries’ Group Show by Artchill in Venice, 
2014 Art Stage Singapore (Sanchit Art)
2014 Architectural Biennale (Venice)
2014 International Film Festival, Goa.
2014 ‘Contemporary Figuration’ Group Show at Juneja Art Gallery, Jaipur, 
2014 ‘ Treasures of Rajasthan Season II’ Group Show by Artchill at Indira Gandhi Centre for the Arts, Delhi, 
2015 ‘Art Walk’  Group Show by Artchill at Juneja Art Gallery, Jaipur.  
2015 ‘Oh Krishna’ Group Show at Juneja Art Gallery, Jaipur, 
2016 Artchill Gallery & Museum, Jaipur
2018 ‘ART IDIOMS - STRAY & MOULDED' Group Show at Juneja Art Gallery, Jaipur, 
2019 'Inner voices - outer masks' Group show at Gallery Artchill, Amer Fort, Jaipur.


Paintings in collections, both public and private, include :Bengal FoundationDhakaHiroshima MuseumRockfellerDhaka MuseumNew YorkKasthuri Sreenivasan TrustCoimbatore
National Gallery of Modern Art    New Delhi, Mumbai and Bhopal    
Chandigarh Museums    Chandigarh
Ethnographic Museum    Stockholm    
Kunst Museum    Dusseldorf
Bradford Museum    Bradford, U.K.    
Victoria and Albert Museum    London
Glenbarra Museum    Japan    
Singapore Museum of Modern Art    Singapore
Deutsche Bank    Mumbai and Chandigarh    
Rockefeller Collection    New York
Kapany Collection    San Francisco    
Asian Art Museum    San Francisco
Museum of Contemporary Art    LA    
Jehangir Nicholson Collection    Mumbai
Birla Akademi Collection    Calcutta    
Peabody Essex Museum    Boston
H.K. Kejriwal Museum Collection    Bangalore    
College of Art    Reuben Museum
Dhaka Museum    Bengal Foundation, Dhaka    
Hiroshima Museum    Rockfeller
College of Art    Reuben Museum, New York    
Kasthuri Sreenivasan Trust, Coimbatore    
Artchill Galleries, Jaipur
Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal    
ArtsAcre Museum, Kolkata    
Brooklyn Museum, NY