Vivan Sundaram

It was Amrita’s decision to return to India. She and her parents came back in December 1934: Indira returned a year later. Amrita setup her studio in Shimla and almost immediately pitched herself as a major participant in the making of modern Indian art. Following a nationalist agenda, she embarked on a voyage for a ‘discovery of India’. She was ravished by Ajanta, scrutinized miniature painting, and set up a dialogue on Indian art with the art historian Karl Khandalavala. She exhibited in five cities during this period. Ending up in Delhi, she met Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937.In 1938 she decided to go to Hungary to marry her first cousin Victor Egan, training to be a doctor. They came to India in 1939 and set up home in the Majithia family estate at Saraya (near Gorakhpur). Here Amrita painted some of her most intense works thematized around women. In September 1941 the couple moved to settle in Lahore, where Victor hoped to establish his medical practice. Amrita had planned a major show of paintings in December that year. A few days before that a brief illness treated by her doctor-husband turned fatal and she died tragically on the night of December 1941. Victor and Amrita had no children

(Extract from ‘Retake on Amrita’, October 2001. Vivan Sundaram is the nephew of the artist Amrita Sher-Gil)