Monday, December 29, 2008


Bawa's older brothers encouraged him to pursue art. He studied fine arts at the School of Art, New Delhi between 1958 and 1963, where his professors included Somnath Hore, Rakesh Mehra, Dhanaraj Bhagat and B.C. Sanyal.
"But I gained an identity under Abani Sen. Sen would ask me to do 50 sketches every day, only to reject most of them. As a result I inculcated the habit of working continuously. He taught me to revere the figurative at a time when the entire scene was leaning in favor of the abstract. Without that initial training I could never have been able to distort forms and create the stylization you see in my work today," recalls Bawa.
Manjit Bawa’s Early Career
Between 1964 and 1971, Bawa worked as a silkscreen printer in Britain, where he also studied art. "On my return I faced a crisis. I asked myself, 'What shall I paint?' I couldn't be just another derivative of European style of painting." Instead, he found Indian mythology and Sufi (school of Islam) poetry. "I had been brought up on stories from the Mahabharat, the Ramayan, and the Puranas (Hindu mythological and sociological texts), on the poetry of Waris Shah (a Punjabi poet) and readings from the Granth Sahib (holy book of the Sikhs)," he says.

Manjit Bawa's canvases are distinguishable in their colors - the ochre of sunflowers, the green of the paddy fields, the red of the sun, the blue of the mountain sky. He was one of the first painters to break out of the dominant grays and browns and opted for more traditionally Indian colors like pinks, reds and violet.

He had painted Ranjha, the cowherd from the tragic ballad Heer Ranjha and Lord Krishna with a flute surrounded by dogs and not cows as in mythological paintings. Indian gods Kali and Shiva, whom Bawa considers as "icons of my country", also figure prominently in his paintings.

Nature also plays inspiration here. When young, he would travel widely either on foot, by bicycle or simply, by hitchhiking. "I have been almost everywhere - Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat. I would spread a sheet of paper on the ground and draw the countryside. The colors and the simplicity of people I met fascinated me." Birds and animals make a constant appearance in his paintings, either alone or in human company. Besides nature, the flute is a recurring motif in his works. Bawa learnt to play the flute from maestro Pannalal Ghosh. He has painted Ranjha, the cowherd from the tragic love ballad Heer Ranjha, playing the flute. He has painted Krishna with a flute, surrounded by dogs and not by cows as mythological paintings depict him. Besides these, figures of Kali and Shiva dominate Bawa's canvases; "they are the icons of my country," he feels.

Manjit gained identity under Abani Sen, whom the late painter had claimed taught him "to revere the figurative at a time when the entire art scene was leaning in favor of the abstract." Vadhera, who owns the Vadhera Art Gallery in the capital and who had attended the painter's cremation said, "The most recent memory that I have of Manjit's work was in New York where Christie's auctioned his work for USD 360,000."
He is also known to many as an 'Ice cream' painter'.

'Manjit Bawa dies: 'On 29th Dec 2008' The Sufi in art has gone'
I Express My Deep Heartful Condolence to this
Renowned Artist "MANJIT BAWA"
Let His Soul Rest In Peace.

from- The Hindu
Manjit Bawa dead
Staff Reporter

Manjit Bawa
NEW DELHI: Renowned painter Manjit Bawa, who had been in coma for nearly three years after suffering a stroke, died in the Capital on Monday. He was 67.
Known for his vibrant paintings and his love for spirituality, the artist made a mark for himself with his larger-than- life paintings filled with mythology and Sufi spirituality.
Born in the small town of Dhuri in Punjab, Mr. Bawa went on to study fine arts at the School of Art, New Delhi, under eminent professors including Somnath Hore, Rakesh Mehra, Dhanaraj Bhagat and B. C. Sanyal.

He gained recognition under Abani Sen, whom, he claimed, taught him “to revere the figurative at a time when the entire art scene was leaning in favour of the abstract.”Over the years, Mr. Bawa’s paintings have attracted both Indian as well as international buyers with one of his paintings recently selling for $3.60 lakh. He was among the first painters to break out of the dominant greys and browns of the western art and opt for more Indian colours including red and violet.

The artist was cremated in Green Park in the afternoon in the presence of a large number of friends, admirers and family members.
Expressing her grief and offering condolence to the family, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said: “Manjit Bawa’s paintings and other art works would continue to inspire younger generation in this field.”
In a condolence message, the Lalit Kala Akademi said: “The creative community has lost a towering cultured figure, an important artist of our time and a great, warm-hearted and ever-helpful friend. He had evolved a distinct style of his own and had an aesthetic vision deeply rooted but open to modern interpretation. The lyricism and poetics of his picture created a long-lasting impression on viewers.”
National Gallery of Modern Art director Rajeev Lochan said Mr. Bawa had left behind a legacy that addressed the mythology with a sense of contemporary.

Stating that Mr. Bawa wanted to paint the sky red, Ena Puri, author of a biography on Mr. Bawa, said: “He loved red. He was a brave painter who had the courage to follow his convictions unmindful of the popular trend. We will remember him for his energy.”

Mr. Bawa is survived by his daughter and son. His wife died a few years ago.
News source:- The Hindu

1 comment:

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