Gulam Mohammad Sheikh

Gulam Mohammed Sheikh was born in Surendranagar, Gujarat in 1937. He studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda (M.A. Fine, 1961), and the Royal College of Art, London, (M.A. 1966). He taught art history and painting at B aroda for about thirty years till 1993. In addition to painting and teaching, his career has included numerous publications in art history and criticism and in poetry and prose w

During his stay at the RCA, he traveled widely in Europe, especially in Italy to see the work of the early Renaissance masters. His interest in the traditional arts is of great significance in the development of his own painting and writing. He was actively involved in founding the Group 1890 in l963, a group of twelve young artists who sought to make a critical intervention in what they perceived as the mainstream of a stale national- modem art practice.

Sheikh held his first solo exhibition in Bombay in 1960. His work has been exhibited widely in India and abroad since then. Prominent exhibitions include the Baroda Group Show, Bombay (1959), Group 1890, New Delhi (1963), Cinquieme Biennale de Paris.(1 967), Pictorial Space, New Delhi (1 977), Six who declined to show in the Triennale, New Delhi, (1978), Place for People, Bombay and Delhi 91981), Returning Home, solo ,exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 1985), and the IV Asian Art Show, Fukuoka, Japan ('995). His most recent project is a monumental mural (completed 1997, 30' x 22') titled Tree of Life, executed for the New Vidhan Bhavan of the Madhya Pradesh legislature at Bhopal designed by Charles Correa. This year also sees the publication of the volume Contemporary Art in Baroda, edited by him, which culminates a decade-long research and documentation project. He has also lectured widely on Indian art, and has been responsible for imparting a synthetic and empowering understanding of  tradition to several generations of students.

Sheikh has been instrumental in initiating and theorizing the Narrative-Figurative tendency in contemporary art. His early work may be seen to be occupied with an investigation of the subliminal reaches of human existence. His work from the 1960s and 1970s can be seen to be informed with a consciousness of the surreal in the seemingly mundane. An undercurrent of the erotic seems to animate the landscape. An extreme organicity of forms in vibrant psychedelic color falls in with this concern. His interest in several traditions of world art and the search for a linguistic-theoretical bedrock that could support an indigenous practice that did nor become insular have since led to the formulation of a practice that resists monolithic constructs of identity or tradition, and moves back and forth in time and space

to construct memory plays that do not remain restricted to the autobiographical. Though the autobiographical reference has been an important part of his practice, Sheikh has found it possible to reach for reflections on the historical and the civilizational through the device of the autobiography. Musings on place, on the cultural environment of the individual are of importance, to him; the physical and the transcendental meet in his work.

Sheikh lives and works in Baroda.

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G.M. Sheikh
Between Memory and Music "Passages" Series
Oil on canvas
42" x 84"
1991

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G.M. Sheikh
Story Aziz & Aziza
Oil on canvas
66" x 48"
1989

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G.M. Sheikh
Visatation
Oil on canvas
60" x 120"
1992-96