In Old Delhi, Menon obscures her subject under multiple paint layers, requiring the viewer to peer through a rough patina in order to excavate the composition and discern the hazy images. Key forms such as domes or turrets conjure a monument, perhaps Delhi’s famed mosque, Jama Masjid.
Born in West Bengal, Menon is a post-independence modernist who began painting as a teenager, in the mid-1950s, and gained critics’ attention at an early age. One of her first mentors was M. F. Husain. In 1959 she left India to live in New York, where she met Edgar Kaufmann Jr., then director of the Industrial Design Department at the Museum of Modern Art, who exposed her to Impressionism and American modernism. Later that year she moved to Paris to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Following her graduation in 1961, Menon traveled around the world for several months. Starting in Greece, she went on to explore areas celebrated for their ancient monuments and architectural history—Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Tehran.