Born to a government peon, Shanti Dave spent his childhood in a village in Gujarat. Moving later to Ahmedabad, he earned a living by painting signboards and billboards for films. He then trained in art at the M. S. University, Baroda, where he studied under eminent artist-teacher N. S. Bendre, and co-founded the Baroda Group in 1957 with fellow artists. Early in his career, he made several commissioned murals, including for Air India’s offices in London, New York and Delhi. Dave’s concerns are modernist, evident in the formal abstraction in his works, with a focus on the medium and its possibilities more than incorporating ideological concerns. Later, he consciously preferred printmaking, attracted as much to the medium’s greater democratic nature for both, the artist and the buyer, but also for the possibility of greater textures it offered.
Dave is known for his experimentation with another medium – encaustic, in combination with oil, to create paintings in high relief. Shanti Dave received the Padma Shri in 1985 and the Sahitya Kala Parishad’s award in 1986. He has been honoured thrice by the Lalit Kala Akademi, in the Fifties, and is a member of its executive board. The artist lives and works in New Delhi.