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Modern & Contemporary Indian Art Modern & Contemporary Indian Art GULAM MOHAMMED SHEIKH (B. 1937)
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PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN, BANGALORE
GULAM MOHAMMED SHEIKH B.1937
“In art, painting came in the company of poetry, overlapping and yet independent of each other. Images came from many times, each flowing into the other. Some came from life lived, others from a feeling of belonging to a world of other times, sometimes from painting, sometimes from literature, and often from nowhere, emerging simultaneously through scribbling, drawings, and writings. The multiplicity and simultaneity of these worlds filled me with a sense of belonging to them all…….attempts to define the experience in singular terms have left me with a feeling of unease and restlessness. Absence of rejected worlds has haunted me throughout.”
- Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, ‘Among Several Cultures &Times’ - Excerpts from a presentation made at The Smithsonian Institution Symposium ‘The Canvas of Culture’, 1985
The journey that he made from within a small town middle-class family in the heart of Kathiawar to the urbanised city life of Baroda and elsewhere in the world, filled the metaphysical canvas of artist Gulam Sheikh with the vivid hues of multi-layered memories. The rare candour with which the artist continued to return to his ‘roots’, both geographical a perceptual, defines the vigour of his artistic integrity. To Sheikh the validity of the stylistic and spiritual content of indigenous and European miniature painting traditions continues to exist, in that it is not an obsolete practice but a thriving reality in the multicultural co-existence of the nation.
The present painting ‘We Three’ by Sheikh, painted around the 1960s, leads us to the rustic environs of his modest hometown in Kathiawar. Though executed in Baroda, the artist had dipped his brushes, as it were, in the land of his memories – a ‘mindscape’ of cherished moments, places and things. This period of his artistic journey saw him evolve a series of images based on the visual narratives on the life of the taanga or horse-carriage. The artist brings out through it, the ethos of a rural livelihood that was an integral part of his childhood memory, of growing up in the dusty alleys of rural Kathiawar where the horse driven carts were the primary mode of transportation. Gradually the attention shifts from the narrative of the cart to the horses themselves, strewn amidst an intricate cross-section of hutments and thorny shrubs. The focus remains in the physical beauty of their glistening bodies toiling with gut and sinew. The present canvas, executed in bold sweeps of impasto creates an unusual blue hued ambience of concentrated stillness that bequeaths the viewer with an almost meditative silence.
Gulam Mohammed Sheikh is an internationally renowned painter, writer and art critic of importance for over four decades. He pursued his art education at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (1955 -61) and later at the Royal College of Art in London (1982-93). Sheikh has been an inspiring figure as a teacher in the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda in the departments of Art History and Painting. He has also taught at the Art Institute of Chicago as Visiting Artist in 1987 and 2002. He was invited as a Writer/Artist in Residence at Civitella Ranieri Center, Umbertide, Italy (1998), The University of Pennsylvania (2002) and Montalvo, California (2005). He has participated in major exhibitions all over the world and his works can be found in the collections of reputed institutes like the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, USA. He was awarded the prestigious Padmashri award in 1983 and Padmabhushan in 2014 for his contribution to art by the Government of India. He lives and works in Baroda.