“Nobody’s desires can be completely fulfilled in one’s lifetime. Whenever I finish a painting I feel that I could have said a lot more through it. I am always looking forward to what more can I say in the next work of art.”Satish Gujral.’
A pioneer of Indian art, Satish Gujral was a versatile artist his oeuvre includes painting, sculpture, murals, public art and architecture. He was born on 25 December 1925 in Jhelum in undivided Punjab in British India. In his childhood he had slipped and fell into the rapids while crossing a bridge in Kashmir, which affected his hearing, result of which was that many schools refused admission to him. In 1939, he joined the Mayo School of Arts in Lahore, to study applied arts. He moved to Bombay in 1944 and enrolled in the Sir JJ School of Art. In 1947, due to a recurring sickness, he was forced to drop out of school and leave Bombay.
Gujrals’s style of painting was different from his peers and he even didn’t associate himself with the Progressives, who were emerging as a significant presence in the Indian art scene. His paintings rarely show any western influences even though In 1952, hereceived a scholarship to study at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, where he worked with renowned artists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Gujral witnessed the gruesome partition at a very young age and the impact of which was so strong that its agony would reaffirm in the initial stages of his artistic career. From 1952 to 1974, Gujral organised shows of his sculptures, paintings and graphics in many cities across the world including New York City, New Delhi, Montreal, Berlin and Tokyo, among others.
Gujral has had several health issues which according to him helped him to perceive life in a very different way and after each and every recovery; he was forced to make the best out of his life. He had lost his hearing ability when he was a teenage and it was only after undergoing a surgery in 1988 that he recovered and regained his ability to hear. Gujrals life was full of tiff and turns
Satish Gujral is described as a legend, he is among one of the few artists who have consistently dominated the art scene in India for entire post-independent era. He acclaimed fame as an artist as well as an architect. In one of his interviews he has mentioned about him being bored with art as he felt that he had done everything that he could do with art. It was in 1968, that he decided to demonstrate his skills in architecture. And in 1984, he completed his project of Belgium embassy in India which was later termed as one of the finest buildings of the 20th century in a forum held by international architects.
Satish Gujral was honored with the second highest National Award of India, “Padma Vibhushan“. And Citizens of New Delhi had honored Gujral as one of its 25 citizens who in the last 50 years , brought the city on the world map.
Gujrals works have been recorded in various documentaries and he himself was also part of the 2007 BBC television film, Partition: The Day India Burned. A 24-minute documentary called “A Brush with Life” was released on 15 February 2012 which was based on his own book with the same name. Four books of his work have been published, including an autobiography.
It’s distressing that art world has lost its finest artist and we would not see anything new from him. Gujral died on 26th March 2020 and left a void in Indian art impossible to fill.
Satish Gujral received the following awards in recognition of his vital contribution in the field of art:
National Award for Painting – The National Award in the field of painting is considered as one of the most prestigious awards. He has bagged this award twice in his illustrious career so far.
National Award for Sculpture – He managed to bag the National Award for sculpting as well.
State Honor – He was honored by the State Government of Punjab for his impeccable contribution towards art and architecture.
Order of the Crown –The government of Belgium honored him with this prestigious award for his contribution towards architecture.
Padma Vibhushan – In the year 1999, the government of India honored him with the country’s second highest civilian award.
Leonardo Da Vinci Award – This prestigious award was presented to him by the World Cultural Council for his impressive contribution towards offering positive messages to the world through various expressions of art.
International Award for Life Time Achievement – The government of Mexico honored him with this award.
NDTV Indian of the Year – In 2014, he was selected as the Indian of the Year by NDTV, a national