in Jhelum in 1925 in pre-partition West Punjab, Satish Gujral has won international
recognition for his wide range of creativity that runs through painting, graphics, mural,
sculpture, architecture and interior design. At the age of eight, a sickness terminally
impaired his hearing.
During his early years of sickness, "entombed in silence", as
he said, he read Urdu literature and went on doodling with a pencil on paper. In 1939 he
joined the Mayo School of Art in Lahore to study Applied Arts. The School's curriculum
included various techniques for stone and woodcarving, metal smithery, clay modeling,
drawing and design, to which was added scale- drawing and copying of the ground plans and
elevations of old buildings.
About three years before the partition of India, Satish Gujral joined
Sir J.J. School of Art in Bombay in 1944 to study Painting. During 1944-47 he came into
contact with the Progressive Artists Group in Bombay, which included S.H. Raza, EN. Souza,
P.N. Mago, Jehangir Sabavala, M.F. Husain and others. Satish Gujral could not accept the
PAG's total adaptation of techniques and vocabulary of European Expressionism and Cubism.
He searched for a kind of modernism rooted in Indian traditions.
In 1947 he had to discontinue his studies at the J.J. School of Art
because of recurring illness. In 1952 he left for Mexico on a scholarship for an
apprenticeship with Diego Rivera (1 8W 1 957) and David Sequeiros (1898-1974). The social
content dominated his paintings and graphics, and the anguish of the nations who lost
their homes and families during the partition of the country came out in angry, sweeping
gestural brushwork in his paintings. His search was on for what was living and life-
giving in the traditional arts and crafts of India, and he diversified his sculptural
materials with machined industrial objects in steel, copper, glass, often painted in
strong enamel colors. Later he tried out junk sculptures, introducing light and sound in
From 195 2 t 1974, Satish Gujral had scores of solo shows of his
sculptures, paintings and graphics in Mexico City, New York, New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta,
Montreal, Rome, Berlin, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Stockholm. Since the late '80s up to the
recent years, Satish Gujral's paintings and sculptures further diversified both in terms
of materials and content. Satish Gujral's sculptures in burnt wood have come with a kind
of visceral exposure of forms, human and otherwise.
He executed commissions to make large murals, mostly in mosaic and
ceramic tiles and later in machined steel elements, simulated his interest in their
immediate architectural context.
By 1977, he executed murals for Punjab University, Chandigarh, Odeon
Cinema, New Delhi (1962), World Trade Fair, New York (1963), Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi
(1964), Northern Railway, New Delhi (1966), Ministry of Education, Shastri Bhavan, New
Delhi (1968), Agricultural University, Hissar (1970, '73, '86), Oberoi Towers, Bombay
(1971-72), The Palace of the Sultan of Muscat (1975), Delhi High Court (1976), Gandhi
Institute, Mauritius (1 977) and World Trade Centre, New York (1980). The year 1977 is
important because in that year Satish Gujral started actively exploring the elusive
vocabulary of the International Style in modem architecture. He designed the Daryani
House, New Delhi (1977), Modi House (1978), Gandhi Institute (1978-79), Datwani House
(1979- 90), Modi House (1980-82), Belgian Embassy, New Delhi (1980-83), and Dass House,
New Delhi (1983-85). In 1986 Satish Gujral designed the Goa University and the CMC,
Hyderabad, Palace AI-Bwordy, Dubai, and the Indian Ambassador's house in Jakarta,
Honours and recognition he won since the beginning of his career: The
National Award for Painting (1 956, '57), National Award for Sculpture (1 972), State
Honour f@om the Government of Punjab (1979), and the Order of the Crown, Belgium, for
Acrylic on Canvas
45" x 60"
Acrylic on Canvas
34" x 45"