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Talk / Lecture

Two Iconic Amritas: The Painter and the Poet

May 24, 2024 | 12:30PM - 1:30PM

In conjunction with the exhibition I Will Meet You Yet Again: Contemporary Sikh Art this virtual lecture by Dr. Nikky G.K. Singh focuses on two postmodern women featured in the exhibition: painter Amrita Sher-Gil (1913–1941) and poet Amrita Pritam (1919–2005). Through paintbrush and pen they tell us about themselves, just as they tell us about violence, modernity, gender-injustice. Through their respective genres, the two Amritas expose patriarchal, social, political, national, and religious infrastructures. How do these poems and paintings echo one another? How does the language of color fuse with the language of sound? What is the verbal visual nexus of these artworks? How do these works make space for what poet Percy Shelley called the “wonder of our being?”

Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh is Crawford Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Colby College in Maine. She has published extensively in the field of Sikh studies. Her recent books include Poems from the Sikh Sacred Tradition (2023), Janamsakhi: Paintings of Guru Nanak in Early Sikh Art (2023), and The First Sikh: The Life and Legacy of Guru Nanak (2019). Her pioneering study The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent was published by Cambridge University Press in 1993. Professor Singh has served on the editorial board of several journals including History of Religions, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Sikh Formations, and CrossCurrents.

The Singh Twins (b. 1966, London, U.K.), detail of Phulkari: Craft and Conflict from the series Slaves of Fashion, 2017; cotton with viscose blend and gold lurex thread; Courtesy of the artists and the Khanuja Collection

Kanwal Dhaliwal (b. 1960, Mehma Sarja, Panjab, India), Amrita Pritam, 2023; oil on canvas; Courtesy of the artist and the Sidhu Family Collection


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