Friday, February 15, 2013

An undisputed authority on folk and tribal art

A renowned figurative painter and a widely respected authority on India’s fascinating folk and tribal art traditions, Haku Shah was drawn towards painting, poetry drama and music since early childhood. He would make wall paintings to generate awareness on social issues. Here are some important milestones of his illustrious career:

Born in 1934 in Gujarat, he did his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda. As an artist, the spontaneity and natural simplicity of rustic rural life always fascinated him. While at Gujarat’s Gandhi Ashram, he got an opportunity to grasp the mesmerizing quality of tribal art and compiled many Rani Paraj images on his own.

A stint at NID (National Institute of Design) in Ahmeadabad provided further impetus to his desire of documenting tribal way of life. Coincidentally, Stella Kramrisch invited him to assist her in a show 'Ritual Art in Tribe and Village - Art of Unknown India' in America.

During his illustrious career, many solo exhibits of his works have been held including ‘Maanush’, Art Indus Gallery, Time and Space Gallery, Bangalore (2007); a photography exhibition at Alliance Francaise, Bangalore (2006); shows at CIMA, Kolkata, Shridharani Gallery, New Delhi; and Marvel Art Gallery, Ahmedabad (2005).

Apart from these, his earlier exhibits were at Asia Foundation Gallery, San Francisco and International House, Philadelphia (1968); Private Garden, Delhi (1967); Gallery Chemould, Mumbai (1967,68,69,and ’75); Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata (1964); Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1963,64), and  Ashok Gallery, Kolkata (1961,62). His significant group exhibitions and participations are 'National Printmaking Portfolio', Marvel Gallery (2010) and the more recent 'Baroda: A Tale of Two Cities', (Part I), Sarjan Art Gallery, Vadodara (2008), among others.

In appreciation of his contribution to the field of art, he has received several honors and awards like Padma Shri in 1989; special recognition from Davis School of Environment Design, University of California in 1991, Nehru Fellowship for Research Work on Tribal Art, Gujarat (1971-73) and JD Rockfellar 3rd Fund Fellowship.

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