Born in Jhelum in pre-Partition west Punjab, trained at the Mayo School of Art and, later, in 1944-47 at Sir J. J. School of Art in Bombay, Satish Gujral has won international recognition over the years for his versatile creativity that runs through his varied expressions in painting, graphics, murals, sculpture and architecture. The turbulence of the early years – the illness which affected his hearing and the trauma of the country’s Partition – had a deep impact on Gujral’s artistic expression. Though Gujral came into contact with the Progressive Artists’ Group, he found it difficult to reconcile with their techniques, and began a search for a modernism that was deeply rooted in the Indian tradition.
A trip to Mexico on a scholarship and interactions with Diego Riviera inspired his art practice, influencing it heavily with the subject of human suffering which resonated with the artist’s personal experience of Partition. 1952-74 saw Satish Gujral organising solo shows of his sculptures, paintings and graphics across the globe. Since the late Eighties, his paintings and sculptures have shown a greater expansion, both in terms of materials as well as content. The artist began creating large-scale murals, mostly in mosaic and ceramic tiles. Later, the tiles were overtaken by machined steel elements. Gujral’s sculptures in burnt wood come across as visceral exposure of human and other forms.
Widely collected in India and abroad, Satish Gujral has received numerous awards including the da Vinci Award for lifetime achievement from Mexico, honours from the Lalit Kala Akademi, and a Padma Vibhushan from the Government of India.