Ngathingpei Khayi

You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis

The Art of Life

After a gap of three years, artist Satish Gujral is coming up with a new collection of paintings, “Ascending energy, Merging Forms”. He takes us in into his world of colors, family and more as he talks with Society.

Famous artist Satish Gujral is not new to the media. He is constantly been written about for the kind of work he does and the kind of person that he is but that doesn’t take away the excitement to meet him.
As we waited for him in his living room of his aesthetically done home in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar, one felt enveloped in creativity with all his paintings and his art works displayed around the room.

The legendary artist welcomed us with a broad smile. With the assistance of his servant, we tried to make a conversation. After settling down on a plush sofa, Gujral opened up his heart to us. “Fifty years ago I said my theme is man, still my subject is man. I tell of his greatness and his misery, his flight and his pitfalls. My treatment of man has differed in each phase of my work but man has never ceased to be my theme. In each phase, different visual imagery has attracted me. At times, it is flat and colorful. At times, it’s just black and white and massive, as it is in the latest phase. The older I grew, I learnt to get inspired by what I earlier thought as irrelevant.” After a gap of three years, Satish Gujral is exhibiting his works. The art exhibition “Ascending energy, Merging Forms” will showcase Gujral’s paintings, bronze sculptures, drawings at Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi from April 7th 2011 to 13th April 2011.

“I never think before I start drawing, it’s like a mother who doesn’t know how her child will be before it’s born. I sit before the canvas and look at it with feelings and not with the mind. Mind is corrupt, it will make you think whether people will like your work or not. An art work that is already conceived in mind is not worth painting,” sharing the state of mind just before his brush hit the first stroke.

Though his parents and brother (I K Gujral who later became Prime Minster of India) were in active politics, he followed his dreams. Destiny also played a part in making him to take up the brush. He had a fatal accident at the age of eight that made him bed-ridden for six years. “I could not move or go any where. In the meantime, I lost my hearing also. I was ten at that time. My father was thinking of my future education, he saw me doodling and realized that graphic education might be a substitute. He searched for art school and at the age of fourteen I went to art school in Lahore (he was born in Jhelum in 1925 in pre-partition West Punjab). After that, there was no stopping. “

Life took another turn when at the age of 73, he underwent a surgery to overcome his hearing disability. This was in 1997. But when we met him he seemed to still have a problem with exchange of conversation on an average decibel. He preferred reading lips while being talked to in louder voice. He has a reason for it: “On gaining hearing my perception of form went into a sudden change. In the beginning, it excited me but as time passed by, it became uncomfortable. I seem to face the task of filling a vacuum that had taken six decades to reach its brim. That seemed impossible to achieve more because I had already crossed mid-seventies of my life span. Finally, I decided to go back to the old soundless world that in its own way had filled my way of perception. It has been almost a decade since I got back into the old and familiar world and I am quite happy with it.”

What does Satish Gujral do when he is not painting? “Other then painting I read Urdu poetry, biographies and history.” He has written an autobiography ‘A Brush with The Life’ in collaboration with Kushwant Singh.

Life has taken a full circle, with no qualms says Satish Gujral, “I am most satisfied with the life I am given to lead. So far what ever I wanted to do I have done and God has been kind to me.”

(Published in Mandate April ’11 Cover story)

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2 comments on “The Art of Life

  1. Artist SATYAJEET SHINDE. From pune
    June 18, 2012

    Hello Sir /madam like artist SATISHJI GUJRAL.& Paintigs plz. I request you meeting SATISHJI GUJRAL?

    • N. Khayi
      July 9, 2012

      Dear Satyajeet, i didn’t get what you want to say but yes it was a great experience meeting and talking to him. i think because he lost his hearing at the very young age, because of which his thinking and ideas are totally different from us, which makes his paintings unique.

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