Artist Manjit Bawa dead after three years in coma (Lead)

December 29th, 2008 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) Eminent painter Manjit Bawa died in the national capital early Monday after a prolonged illness. He was 67.Bawa, well known for the vibrant use of colours in his paintings, was in coma following a brain haemorrhage three years ago.

He is survived by his daughter and son. His wife died a few years ago.

Born in Dhuri in Punjab in 1941, Bawa studied at the College of Art in New Delhi. He obtained a diploma in silk screen printing from the London School of Printing, Essex. From 1967 to 1971 he worked in London as a silk screen printer.

A figurative painter from the beginning of his career, Bawa achieved a simplicity of figuration that is reminiscent of Bengal’s Kalighat Pat’s linear flow and modernist remoulding of form that one finds in the works of Jogen Choudhury.

Bawa and Choudhury were great friends and spent days together in art camps.

“They were part of a new movement in art and both were known for their sense of contours,” said art critic Uma Nair.

There is an undercurrent of Sufi mysticism in the choice of his subjects which were mostly idyllic scenes of love, peace and pristine innocence, the flute-playing Krishna and the cattle, predatory animals and gatherings of men.

“Manjit Bawa was the first to blend iconography with the world of miniatures in 1993 with a historic exhibition that was bought by Anupam Poddar. He also did a small series on jewels at Gallery Espace. It was a small but fantastic exhibition of jewels and miniatures,” said Nair.

Recalling the day Bawa suffered a brain stroke, she said he had collapsed in his car after attending an exhibition at the Bodhi Art Gallery here.

“That was the first time I saw him in a black suit. He was always dressed in the traditional India kurta and loose pants, but he had put on weight. I remember that he was rushed to the hospital by Amit Judge of Bodhi Art,” Nair said.

According to her, Bawa is considered a master draftsman in Indian art history since he had a phenomenal sense of drawing.

“Whenever we think of legends and icons, it is Manjit’s works that comes to our mind,” Nair said.

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