Sunday, August 19, 2012

Milestones of a master artist's career

One of India's most evocative and profound artists, VS Gaitonde left a distinct mark on the canons of contemporary Indian art. Painters Paul Klee, Joan Miro and Wassily Kandinsky as well as the philosophy of Zen Buddhism were among the major influences on him as a painter.
  • Born in Nagpur, he studied painting at Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai (1943-48). A hardcore non-conformist, he consciously stayed away from any distractions to his identity as a painter, and preferred to remain a solitary figure. Although briefly associated with the Progressive Artists Group (PAG), VS Gaitonde held his own identity. In terms of approach and beliefs, he was quite unlike MF Husain, his ‘more famous’ contemporary.
  • Among his major solos are ‘An Abstract Vision’, Pundole Gallery and HEART, Mumbai (1997); apart from shows at Willard Gallery, New York (1965); Gallery’ 63, New York (1963); Graham Gallery, New York (1959).
  • Among the major displays of his work are 'The Progressives & Associates', Grosvenor Gallery, London; 'Black and White', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai; 'Masters of Maharashtra', LKA collection at Piramal Gallery, Mumbai (2010); 'Bharat Ratna', Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; ‘'Progressive to Altermodern’', Grosvenor Gallery (2009); ‘Expanding Horizons’, Traveling show by Bodhi (2008-09); 'Moderns', Royal Cultural Centre, Amman, Jordan courtesy LKA, Delhi; 'Multiple Modernities’', Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA; ‘Freedom 2008’, CIMA, Kolkata (2008).
  • The honors he won during an illustrious career included Bombay Art Society award (1950); J. D. Rockefeller III Fellowship (1964-65); and Padma Shri from The Government of India (1971). He won the top honor at the Young Asian Artists' Exhibition in Tokyo (1957).
It is interesting to peep into the processes and philosophy of one of India’s legendary artists of his era. Vasudeo S. Gaitonde transformed basic elements into carriers of spiritual introspection that turned his works into mystifying masterpieces. The reclusive artist did not relish the limelight and banished everything he considered irrelevant to his identity and passion as a painter.

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