New Delhi - Legendary 20th century artist Amrita Sher-Gil is back in the spotlight on her birth centenary with the release of a special cover of her 1935 painting "Three Girls" here Thursday.
The painting's cover was released at National Gallery of Modern Art in collaboration with the Department of Posts and Ministry of Culture. "A Family Album" - a film on the artist made by Navina Sundaram - was also screened.
Painted after returning from Paris, where Sher-Gil studied art, "Three Girls" won the Bombay Art Society gold medal.
Sher-Gil was born to a Hungarian mother and a Punjabi father Jan 30, 1913, and died at the age of 28 in 1941.
"Amrita Sher-Gil lived life on her own terms. She was perhaps one of the earliest feminists in our country, celebrating the beauty and power of women through her paintings," said Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch at the event.
"In a pre-global era, Sher-Gil's art displayed a blend of European and Indian influences well ahead of her times. Her command over handling of oil as a medium and use of colour, as well as her vigorous brushwork and strong feeling for composition were the marks of a genius," Katoch said.
Also present were Karan Singh, Indian Council for Cultural Relations president, and Katalin Bogyay, UNESCO General Conference president and Hungary's ambassador to the United Nations' culture forum.
Sher-Gil painted nearly 300 canvases and made several hundred sketches.
Her family later donated the works to National Gallery of Modern Art. The collection has now been put on display at the gallery.
Sher-Gil's oeuvre is a distinct blend of European post-impressionism, which she mastered at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Hungarian open or plein-air painting and Indian traditions. The works embody a heightened sense of intensity and form with bright colours.
Yashodhara Dalmia, an art critic and author of "Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life (Penguin)", said the artist's legacy was "melding of eastern and western traditions that explored modernity with its roots in the Indian tradition".
Sher-Gil, who spent a considerable time in Punjab, was influenced by Pahadi, Basoli and Mughal miniature traditions as well, she said.
"A visit to South India also changed her oeuvre, giving her art an ethnic allegorical colour," she said at the launch of the book's paperback edition Wednesday under a joint initiative by India Art Fair and Bonjour India.
"Her watershed was South Indian trilogy, a series inspired by colours and people of the south," Dalmia told IANS.