Ambassador hosts a reception in honour of artist Sujata Bajaj
The Embassy of France today celebrated the remarkable achievements of Indian artist Sujata Bajaj.
New Delhi, 8 March 2019
The Embassy of France today celebrated the remarkable achievements of Indian artist Sujata Bajaj. The Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler, hosted a special reception at the Residence of France, at which seven striking pieces of the artist’s work, curated on the theme of colour, were on display.
The Jaipur-born artist, who has a doctoral degree in Indian tribal art, studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, on a French government scholarship. She later joined Studio Claude Visieux, where she studied the monotype technique in multimedia printmaking. Her wide range of influences are reflected in her work, which is deeply rooted in her Indian heritage, but also draws on the artistic movements and techniques she encountered in France.
Highlighting Ms. Bajaj’s remarkable journey from an art student in Paris to an eminent artist, Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler said: “Your story illustrates how student exchanges between our two countries can become an incredible opportunity and have a lasting impact on one’s career and personal life. Student mobility between India and France in arts is particularly meaningful and must be encouraged. The Institut français en Inde is hence investing great effort in this area.”
Acknowledging France’s influence on her artistic sensibilities, Sujata Bajaj, has said: “With France, it was love at first sight, and there has been no looking back. I am deeply Indian, but I felt immediately at home in France… There is influence of both French and Indian art in my work. I use a lot of vibrant colours, but balance the colours with the texture."
Sujata Bajaj, who has referred to herself a colourist due to the power of colours to invoke feelings, has explored various materials, media and methods. She divides her time between Pune, Norway and Paris.
A very warm welcome to all of you. I am particularly delighted to host this reception tonight in honour of my dear friend Sujata Bajaj. First because she’s a brilliant artist, who is among the most talented of her generation; second because the strong ties she has developed with France embody the special relation we are building between France and India.
Dear Sujata, although this is not an extensive exhibition of your work, I must say that I am extremely glad to showcase, here, at the Residence de France a meticulously curated selection of some of your most prominent pieces to celebrate the 30th anniversary of your encounter with Paris.
Sujata, your journey with France is such a beautiful story! It’s the pursuit of a dream and the achievement of a passion.
30 years ago, you came to Paris, at the insistence of the late artist S.H. Raza, to study art on a French Government scholarship. You enrolled at the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts, like great Indian masters such as Amrita Sher-Gil, Raza himself, Sakti Burman or Anjolie Menon did before you. You also worked at Studio Claude Visieux, where you had the opportunity to explore unique techniques. I know that your encounter with Jean-Claude Carrière, on your very first exhibition in Paris, also was of utmost importance for you.
During our many conversations, Sujata, you often told me that you had felt at home in Paris on the very first day, and that our country had helped you "find the balance between Indian aesthetics and modern painting."
And that’s exactly what your work is about: a unique way to reinventing contemporary art through abstraction while preserving a strong consciousness of what it means to be Indian, while embracing ancestral traditions of India, like in your Ganapati work, for instance. This cross-fertilization gives an amazing result, a unique artistic voice, which we feel privileged to admire tonight.
Dear Sujata, your story also illustrates how student exchanges between our two countries can become an incredible opportunity, and have a lasting impact on their professional career as well as their personal life. At the embassy, we have been working a lot on promoting more mobility in arts, on strengthening this “Indo-French Connection” in the artistic sector, in particular through the Amba Dalmia Scholarship, which we launched last year. This programme aims at encouraging more Indian women to look towards France for opportunities.
Tonight we celebrate your creations, Sujata, but it’s not pure coincidence that we are gathered around your work on International Women’s Day. It gives me the opportunity to share with you my concern about the recognition of women in the artistic and academic world. Indeed, in India as well as in France, women artists have faced and continue to face many challenges.
I am pleased to see that in the past decade in India, increasing prominence has been given to female artists in exhibitions, museum shows and collections. The curation of the Kochi Muziris Biennale by the talented Anita Dube or the recent exhibition dedicated to Arpita Singh’s impressive work at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art offer good examples of this positive development.
Sujata, your career and the international recognition you have gained show that attitudes and mentalities are changing, even if we still have a long way to go to achieve balance and recognition.
While we continue to work together towards this goal, let’s pause to celebrate the remarkable success of a persevering and inspiring woman!
Bonne soirée à tous!