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Satish Gujral, A Living Legend

Posted Feb 12 2011 1:20pm
''Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage''

Satish Gujaral is one of the greatest as well as the most creative and versatile artist of the Indian subcontinent. Truly a living legend, He is a Painter, Sculptor, Muralist, Architect and Writer. Honored with the second highest National Award,”Padma Vibhushan” and many prestigious national and international awards. He is a younger brother of Indra Kumar Gujral who served as a prime minister of India in 1997 – 1998.


Satish Gujaral was born in Jhelum, now known as western Pakistan in 1925. His father, Avatar Narain Gujral, was a lawyer in Jhelum. At the age of eight an illness caused his hearing loss. His father and elder brother saw his inclination towards painting and drawings and sent him to Mayo School of Arts, Lahore, to study applied arts in 1939. He joined J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai in the year 1944 for further study in arts. During his stay at J.J. School, he came into contact with the Progressive Artists Group. However, he found it difficult to agree with their techniques and started looking for a kind of modernism, with its roots in the Indian traditions. His family settled down in Delhi after partition in 1947, in the same year he left the college due to a prolong sickness. He went to Mexico in 1952, on a scholarship, for an apprenticeship with the famous Mexican muralists Diego Rivera and David Sequeiros. There, his work influenced by the suffering of the people who lost their homes and families because of the partition of the country. There, he started sculpture work using different materials, other than the material commonly used like wood and clay, he experimented with materials like steel, copper, glass and even tried junk sculpture.

His first solo show was organized in 1953 in Mexico. Since than, solo exhibitions of his work in paintings and sculptures have been organized in many countries like Mexico, New York, New Delhi, Montreal, Rome, Tokyo, Stockholm, Mumbai and Calcutta. The Belgian Embassy building, in New Delhi, is designed by him, that has earned him the ‘Order of the Crown’ by the King of Belgium. He executed murals for The Palace of the Sultan of Muscat, Ministry of Education, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi; Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi; Oberoi Towers, Bombay; Delhi High Court. Satish Gujral designed the Goa University and the CMC, Hyderabad, Palace AI-Bwordy, Dubai and the Indian Ambassador’s house in Jakarta, Indonesia and many more.


Honours and recognition he won since the beginning of his career: The National Award for Painting (twice), National Award for Sculpture, State Honor from the Government of Punjab, and the Order of the Crown, Belgium, for Architecture, Padma Vibhushan , Leonardo Da Vinci Award and International award for Life Time Achievements (Mexico).

At the age of 72 years, he received cochlear implant , which brought the world of sounds back to him after 64 years in silence but soon he felt disturbed and not found comfortable with the world of sounds. In his words,” …….I had a cochlear implant. … at first I was excited, but soon I started to feel miserable. I had lived in a world of my own like a blind man …..every face , he has an idea…he might think of every ugly woman as very beautiful. Then if you bring him his sight back, it will uproot him from where he has lived. So is with sound. Sound also makes an effect on the image around you. …and you start living in that world. When my hearing came back …. That was very disturbing. I could not reinvent things. So I got the implant removed……now I think the silence was a gift. Before I think it was a handicap.”

He gave all credits to his elder brother for his success. He learnt English without hearing a word at the age of 31. Till than he knew only Punjabi. He can lip read and can communicate in spoken language with the help of his wife. In his 80’s he still works with the same energy. He has a son and two daughters.

Mural : A mural is a painting on a wall, ceiling, or other large permanent surface.
Visit Staish Gujral ’s official Website : http://www.satishgujral.com/

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