Born in Lothal village in Gujarat, one of the sites of the Harappan civilisation, Himmat Shah’s long-term engagement with terracotta traces its roots to the place, seen especially in his sculptural series Heads. Going against the grain of his Jain mercantile family, Shah chose art, graduating from the Sir J. J. School of Art. He also studied painting at M. S. University, Baroda, and then spent two years in Paris under S. W. Hayter, interacting with European modernism.
A versatile artist, Shah has experimented across forms and mediums, making burnt paper collages, architectural murals, drawings and sculptures, though he sees himself as primarily a sculptor. His self-designed tools and innovative techniques give his preferred medium – terracotta – a contemporary edge. Shah uses a number of tools, brushes, instruments and hand tools to carve, shape and mould his works. He has designed and executed monumental murals in brick, cement and concrete.
A founder member of Group 1890, Himmat Shah has received a scholarship from the French government in 1966, Lalit Kala Akademi’s National Award in 1956 and 1962, the Sahitya Kala Parishad Award in 1988, and the Kalidasa Samman from the Madhya Pradesh government in 2003. Himmat Shah lives and works in Jaipur.