"In art you have to go on for a long time before you can say 'I have done something'." - Tyeb Mehta
Tyeb Mehta was born on 26 September 1925 in Kapadvanj, Gujarat. Mehta was brought up in Mumbai. At the age of 22 years, during the partition riots of 1947 in Mumbai, he witnessed a man being stoned to death by a mob which had a lasting impression in his mind and work. He expressed this situation in a drawing. He also depicted disturbing subjects in his paintings.
Mehta worked as a film editor in a cinema laboratory in Mumbai for a while. In 1952, he received his diploma from Sir JJ School of Art. He later formed a part of the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group which included great painters of India like SH Raza, FN Souza and MF Husain. Mehta spent most of life in Mumbai.
Once in an interview he said - "My happiest moments are spent with myself and my art.”
Works of Tyeb Mehta:
Tyeb Mehta was a distinguished artist of India. Mehta left for London in 1959. He worked and lived there till the year 1964. In 1968 he was awarded a fellowship from the John D Rockefeller 3rd Fund and visited US. During his stay in London, Mehta’s style was influenced by the expressionist works of Francis Bacon and while he was in US his work came to be characterized by minimalism. Mehta made a three minute film 'Koodal' which won the Filmfare Critics Award in 1970. Between 1984–85 he remained an Artist-in-Residence at the Santiniketan. Mehta later returned to Mumbai with significant changes in his work.
The common themes of Mehta's work were trussed bulls, the rickshaw puller, the diagonal series, which he created through the 1970s, Falling Figures, based on his experience of witnessing the violent death of a man in the street and mythological figures, highlighted by the depictions of goddess Kali and demon Mahishasura.
Mehta became a cultural hero during his time as his works were the first works by a contemporary Indian artist to sell for over a million dollars thereby creating interest in Indian art by the international market. Tyeb Mehta held the then record for the highest price an Indian painting has ever sold for at auction at 15 million Indian rupees for 'Celebration' at Christie's in 2002. In May 2005, his painting 'Kali' was sold for 10 million Indian rupees at an Indian auction house - Saffronart's online auction. Mehta's reinterpretation of the tale of demon Mahishasura showing goddess Durga locked in an embrace with the demon sold for $1.584 million. One of his paintings sold for $2 million in 2008. In 2005, his painting 'Gesture' was sold for 31 million Indian rupees at the Osian’s auction.
The artist died on 2 July 2009 at Asian Heart Institute Hospital in Mumbai following a heart attack. He is survived by his wife and children.
Awards and Recognition of Tyeb Mehta:
Tyeb Mehta received several awards for his contribution to art and painting. In 1968, he received a fellowship from the John D Rockefeller 3rd Fund and a gold medal for painting at the first Triennial in New Delhi. In 1974 he received the Prix Nationale at the International Festival of Painting in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.
In 1988 he received the Kalidas Samman, instituted by the government of Madhya Pradesh. In 2005, he received the Dayawati Modi Foundation Award for Art, Culture and Education. In 2007 the government of India awarded him with the Padma Bhushan. In 1970 his film ‘Koodal’ was awarded the Filmfare Critics' Award. Mehta's work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England, and the Hirshhorn Museum. A career retrospective was scheduled for late 2009 at the National Gallery of Modern Art, in New Delhi. In 2010, Ranjit Hoskote published his book called Tyeb Mehta, Images of Transcendence.
Words and Wishes:
Some of the well wishers from the industry poured their hearts out to the media after his sudden demise. Some of the condolences were:
“His legacy was his spirit of survival”
“a major loss to the art world.”
“Tyeb Mehta belongs to a magnificent generation of painters. He stands out among them for being the quintessential modernist.”
“The world of art is much poorer by the passing away of Tyeb Mehta."
Wife: Sakina Mehta
Son: Yusuf Mehta
Daughter in Law: Fatima Mehta
(FAN OF Mr. TYEB MEHTA)
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