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TRANSFORMATION: the journey of an artist

A look at the journeys of five veteran artists of Gujarat

Growing up in Gujarat, and particularly in Baroda, has contributed greatly to my personal creative journey. Elders with connections in the fields of literature and arts of course helped trigger my creative quest; but I would still give more credit to the city we were in – the cultural epicenter of the state of Gujarat.

My first visit to the Fine Arts faculty of M. S. University was a life-changer. I remember being enamored by the students painting in the studios. I loved the space and light in the art gallery and the artists’ work on display. The wall art and massive wooden sculptures strewn around the campus fascinated my young mind. I met many stalwart artists (Pingale, Dhumal, Khakhar) through my father and grandfather; but back then I was too young to grasp their stature in the world of art. 

However, art and artists have continued to inspire me. Studying an artist’s style, genre, preferred media and writing about their work is one of my favourite tasks in my career as an art and design critic.

Though there are numerous celebrated artists living and working in Gujarat, in this Gujarat special issue, we celebrate five versatile veteran artists, who are Gujarati by birth – Padmashri Jyotindra Bhatt, Ghulam Mohammad Shaikh, Vrindavan Solanki, Amit Ambalal, and Dhruva Mistry.

Taking the theme of ‘transformation’ we analyze each artist’s journey, starkly represented by two images of their work – one from their earlier collection (showing the style they preferred when they stepped into the world of art) and one from the recent past (which depicts their evolved style).

Of course, these veteran artists started their artistic journey in an era when understanding of art was very limited and buying, possessing and displaying original art was a status symbol strictly for the rich and elite. So, they have also witnessed the ‘change’; in people’s perception of art as well as their buying and collecting habits. And they all agree that there is a huge change; awareness about art has penetrated through multiple societal layers and that buyers are no longer only art aficionados, but many buy art-works as an investment with a potential for high returns. 

Tracing journeys of veteran artists like the ones we have included here, could be delightful for art connoisseurs who have seen and appreciated the works of these artists over the past many decades, and potentially would have a couple of their signature works in their personal collections.

Text : Ar. Roopa Sabnis Pinge

Images: Courtesy The Architect

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