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Jehangir Sabavala

Born 1922, in the metropolitan city of Bombay, Jehangir Sabavala studied at the Elphinstone College from where in 1942, he moved to the J. J. School of Art, Bombay. In 1945, he went to London to study at the Heatherly School of Art, and in 1947 to Paris at the Academic Julian and Academic Andre Lhote where he remained till 1951. The same year he returned to India and presented his first solo show in Bombay. Thus began his journey into the world of painting. But the restlessness within drove him once again in 1953 to Academic Julian in Paris and the Academic de La Grande Chaumeire in 1957.

His work of the formative years marks this restlessness with turbulent bursting of colour alongwith monumental presence of human form in a post-cubist stance, which he had acquired at the ateliers of Paris and which he has carried with him all through these years. Slowly and steadily he disciplined himself, as the colour sheet becomes mellow, the human figure stands in solitude and where images enter only to get dissolved. Sabavala remains essentially a figurative painter with a strong predilection for the landscape and carries with him the soul of an émigrée and the racial memory of expulsion, dislocation and exile which gives a distinct character to his work. His mere act of painting transcends into metaphysical.

During the last five decades, Sabavala has presented more than thirty solo shows across the sub continent and Europe. He has also participated in major group shows in Sydney (1964), London (1965 & 96) Ghent, Belgium (1966), Teheran (1970), Boston (1975), Washington (1975 & 82), Tokyo (1975), Kuala Lampur (1979 & 95), Singapore, Hongkong (98), Germany (1998), and also in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

In 1977, Jehangir Sabavala was honoured by the Government of India with Padma Sri.

In 1993, the Art Society of India, Mumbai, honoured him with a citation and All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi with ‘Kala Ratna’. In 2002, he received Dadabhai Naoroji Millennium Award, Mumbai.

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