Born in New Delhi, Arpana Caur originally completed her post-graduation in literature from Delhi University before choosing art as her vocation, and studied painting at Central St. Martins College of Art, London. A self-taught artist, Caur’s work strongly draws from literature. The daughter of renowned Punjabi writer Ajit Caur, she was exposed to the literary world early, with path-breaking female writers such as Amrita Pritam and Krishna Sobti a regular presence at her home.
Mysticism is a strong leitmotif of her work, translating on to the canvas mystic thought from literature, devotional poetry and religious thought, most seen in her series on Sufi sants. Caur responds to political events like the Hiroshima atomic bomb, the Sikh massacre, and violence against women, although it is women’s everyday world that is her frequent subject. Stylistically, she also draws on Pahari miniatures for its arrangement of the pictorial space.
Working across several mediums, Caur has received the 1984 All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society Award, New Delhi, a research grant from Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, in 1985, and the gold medal at the sixth Triennale, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in 1986. Arpana Caur lives and works in Delhi.