Monday, June 17, 2013

Satish Gujral: A multi-faceted veteran

One among India’s living legends, veteran artist Satish Gujral has dominated the Indian art scene for over six decades. He has left an indelible mark in almost every conceivable form and medium of expression, and has rightfully received acclaim internationally during his illustrious career. He has conceived architectural marvels like a palace in Riyadh for Saudi Arabia’s royal family; created sculptures out of burnt wood.

There are murals at Shastri Bhavan in Delhi and Gandhi Bhawan in Chandigarh that reflect his love for public art. The Belgian Government honored him with the prestigious "ORDER OF THE CROWN" for astounding design of the Belgian Embassy. He has also been among the first artists from India to work on paper collages.

Satish Gujral’s earlier drawings struck a chord with those who, like the artist himself, had passed through agonizing times of the Partition and its blood-filled aftermath. Laced with a deep humanistic concern and a strong expressionist verve, they brought back to our consciousness the latent pain and despair.

However, his new set of drawings presented by Kolkata’s Aakriti Art Gallery, a couple of years ago unfolded a totally different approach. Created over a period from 2005 to the year 2011, the delightful works exuded exuberance and gaiety etched elegantly, as it were, into the very groove of the captivating contour lines of the objects and figures.

In these deft drawings the firm albeit resilient lines quite paradoxically harbored marks of austerity and control. In many of the drawings, the human figures seemed to have been trapped in a sort of visual trance. They exuded a quality of a freeze-shot or at times, a halted moment. Thus stillness and resonance became their hallmarks. Figures, in these delightful drawings were engaged in some strange activities. The mode of lyrical representation harked back to a wistful time, a naive nostalgic psyche that hovers, as it would be, on a somewhat undefined neutral territory.

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