Lot 236
  • 236

Manjit Bawa (1941-2008)

120,000 - 180,000 USD
209,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Manjit Bawa
  • Untitled
  • Signed and dated 'Manjit Bawa 2003' and further signed in Devanagari on reverse
  • Oil on canvas


Acquired from Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

Catalogue Note

Manjit Bawa's luminous paintings are an exploration of form and space that draws the viewer into an intimate experience with the artist's imaginary world. With an emphasis on coloration, his blending and gradation of colors on the subjects have an element of post-Renaissance painting, yet flat backgrounds and dismissal of perspectival space prevails. Bawa has attributed his bright and flat color fields to his work as a silk screen painter in the United Kingdom during 1964-71. This feature seems to render the forms weightless and his humans and animals project a sense of vulnerability, seeming to appear like magic in the forefront, almost like an apparition. This use of background space as a unified whole, combined with very Indian colors such as mustard yellow, cerulean blue and chilli red are reminiscent of Pahari miniatures, yet Bawa imbues a sense of ethereality or other otherworldliness in his works that truly makes him unique. 'If Manjit Bawa's iconography seems to replay a series of classical themes inherited from Indian tradition, we ought not to forget that it also derives its potent charge from the attention he pays to the ever-pixellating textures of contemporary experience.' (R. Hoskote, Manjit Bawa: Modern Miniatures, Recent Paintings, Bose Pacia Modern, 2000, unpaginated)

Bawa fondly reminisces about his artistic choices and aptly says, 'Being a turbanned Sikh from an ordinary middle-class family was daunting enough but to strike out against the prevalent forces of Cubism and the iconic Klee was to really ask for big trouble and I was hauled up time and again with strict instructions to toe the line. But I remained true to my calling, naturally annoying authorities. Even then in those formative years I was haunted by the spectre of mediocrity. I was willing to accept any challenge, but on my own terms. I was obsessed with one driving need – to create my own painterly language.’ (M. Bawa, ‘I Cannot Live By Your Memories, Manjit Bawa in Conversation with Ina Puri’, Let’s Paint the Sky Red: Manjit Bawa, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2011, p. 47)