Works Displayed at Uddari Art
Modern art by Punjabis
The lyricism of Manjit Bawa (Dhuri 1941) springs from his training in silk-screening. Bawa’s boneless, amoebic humans and beasts float in flouroscent candy coloured space: pink, violet, emrald green, sky blue, tangerine. Bawa, who is inspired by the eighteenth century Hill State painters of his home state of Punjab, seeks the iconic simplicity of Indian mythology. Since the theme are universally familiar, ‘you can concentrate instead on the form, the colour, the space’, he explains.
– Geeta Kapoor
The past two decades that saw a major boom for contemporary art in the country have in a way had painter Manjit Bawa as a central player. The talented painter made long strides in achieving a celebrity status home and abroad, crossing over from pure art to a showmanship of a kind that such fame usually entails.
However, Manjit continued painting and showing, inaugurating events in his silk kurtas and pashmina shawls, singing Sufiana songs and cooking Punjabi food at Lohrhi and Baisakhi festival dos and winning over feminine hearts even though he had stepped into his Sixties.
Manjit’s figurative work and use of bright colours is daring and impressive. A master colourist, his figures of Krishna with the flute or eating a banana shot him into recognition. He was at equal ease painting acrobats as well as animal figures ranging from the mighty lone to the holy cow and the docile goat. Deeply disturbed by communal rioting and violence, he, however, never reacted directly but chose the artist’s way by showing harmony of the animal world or gentle figures culled from folk legends and myth.
– Nirupama Dutt