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  The memory keeper

The memory keeper

Published : Jan 22, 2016, 10:23 pm IST
Updated : Jan 22, 2016, 10:23 pm IST

To celebrate veteran artist Satish Gujral’s 90th birthday, the Gujral Foundation has put together a show titled “A Brush With Life” celebrating his life and work.

Satish Gujral, Untitled 1986, 37.5 x 61.5 in., Paper collage.jpg
 Satish Gujral, Untitled 1986, 37.5 x 61.5 in., Paper collage.jpg

To celebrate veteran artist Satish Gujral’s 90th birthday, the Gujral Foundation has put together a show titled “A Brush With Life” celebrating his life and work. Curated by Pramod K.G., this exhibition displays around 120 of his works — detailing his journey as an artist and showcasing the diversity of his artistic practice.

Like a retrospective, this month-long exhibit also aims to showcase the many hats the artist has donned — as a painter, muralist, sculptor and architect — to viewers. It traces his journey from being a young boy in Lahore to his days of glory in the capital as a multi-faceted artist, who has worked with the widest possible range of materials and media. Talking about the title Pramod K.G. says, “We took inspiration from his autobiographical book by the same name. Since it marks his 90th birthday this year the exhibition pays homage to one of India’s most celebrated artists and provides a rare opportunity for a closer look at the breadth of his work, a deeper understanding of the man behind the work and the range of his artistic career.”


Over 70 original works of art will be juxtaposed with rare archival photographs of the remarkable people from the 20th century who touched his life and vintage images of works that have long left public memory. “The exhibition, which is deeply personal, helps the viewers connect with Gujral the artist and the child who lost his hearing when he was eight years old, along with the change and vibrancy a cochlear implant six decades later brought to his work. Gujral is one of the few artists who has painted human conditions and emotions during the partition,” share Pramod.

He further adds, “A witness to partition, the agony of the immigrant experience strongly manifested itself in Gujral’s early works and one could see its impact in his first collection of works made during 1947 called Partition Series. It is a theme he has returned to frequently in a career that spanned over six decades. The versatile talent and vast oeuvre of Satish mirrors the trials and tribulations of a fledgling nation.”


Pramod elaborates on how memory plays a crucial role in his work and acts as a metaphorical shadows with characters appearing as leitmotifs in Satish’s artistic career. He says, “From sketches to collages and abstract paintings to narrative his work depicts various human conditions.”

“As an artist Satish never restricted himself from exploring and experimenting. This exhibition gives an insight into this visionary artist who inspired people to live happily despite the troubled lives”, Pramod adds.

His work entered another epoch as he delved into sculpture using stone, metals and resin alongside elaborate forays into ceramics. Ceramics were a preferred material for his iconic murals across north India that had been inspired by his work with Diego Rivera in Mexico in the early 1950s. This eventually led him to architecture and his buildings have a distinct footprint derived from his quintessential style. Pramod says, “Satish is perhaps the only modern Indian artist to have worked with such diverse media and forged such varied artistic paths. Today, his art has come full circle with newer works evocatively recalling earlier themes.”


The exhibition is on till February 20, 2016 at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts