Satish Gujral

Satish Gujral, one of the most renowned and celebrated artists of India died recently at the age of ninety four. Born in Jhelum (now in Pakistan) in 1924. He became totally deaf at 13, and this made him extremely sensitive to the external world to break many barriers to create his unique style. He listened to his inner voice and chose a visual medium of expression that could translate his suffering and it started showing on his canvases. Having gone through the suffering of Partition, tragedy became his instinctive theme. We see that inevitable hopelessness writ large on the faces in his painting, ‘The Rehabilitated’.
Unlike other artists who preferred visiting Paris to explore and learn, he chose to spend fruitful years at Mexico. His stay at Mexico brought him close to famous muralist Diego Rivera and he was also under the influence of Orozco. This helped him overcome the mental strain caused by the partition agony and his forms started becoming massive in size. We also find Surrealism in ‘Loneliness’ done in 1954.
Gradually, the flow of lines that had become angular started flattening in the early sixties and the turmoil also seemed little settled. Lines and textures became very important to him and he started contributing depth, volume and density to his works of art. His painting ‘Krishna and Arjun’ shows simplicity and sturdiness at the same time. For a while he spent more time on murals of huge size. His renowned works include the murals done at the Delhi High Court, Gandhi Bhavan Chandigarh, Baroda House Delhi, World Trade Centre, New York, Jain House Frankfurt, Diamond House, Antwerp and India Culture Centre, Mauritius.
Satish Gujral’s dynamism and versatility had no end spanning painting, sculpture and architecture. As an architect, he designed the embassy of Belgium in New Delhi in 1984, UNESCO building in Delhi, Goa University and a summer palace for the Saudi Royal family in Riyadh.
He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1999 for his contribution to art. One person who not only stood by him in his time of struggle and artistic explorations but also inspired him to achieve greater heights, was his wife, Kiran Gujral. No wonder it was her voice that he wanted to hear first of all after his surgery to regain the sense of hearing.
Satish Gujral shall always be remembered as an honest, humble and most compassionate artist who could feel the texture with his eyes.

Goldy Malhotra

About Goldy Malhotra

Leave a Reply