Manjit Bawa

Artist Profile

Born in 1941 in Dhuri, Punjab, Manjit Bawa is one of India’s most acclaimed artists. Encouraged heavily by his older brothers to pursue art, Bawa studied at the Delhi College of Art from 1958-1963 under eminent modern artists such as Somnath Hore, Dhanraj Bhagat and B.C. Sanyal. But it was Abani Sen who had a huge influence on Bawa, pushing him towards figurative work when others were leaning towards abstract. Sen made Manjit Bawa sketch constantly, and that practice made him develop his own distinct style, which is recognizable even today. Bawa went to London in 1964 where he worked as a silkscreen printmaker while also studying art. During that time, he managed to land solo exhibitions in London as well as Spain.

In 1972, he returned to India. Rejecting European influences, Manjit Bawa was one of the few artists of his time who used distinctly Indian colours such as bright pink, red, blue, sunflower yellow, green, and violet. Nature, birds and animals occurred frequently in his paintings, along with mythological characters such as Krishna, Kali and Shiva, and also Ranjha, from the tragic epic Heer Ranjha. Bawa was deeply spiritual and a believer of Sufi philosophy. His crisp, allegorical paintings were featured at Biennales in Japan, Turkey and Cuba. He also participated in many significant group shows in Amsterdam, Singapore, London, Mumbai and Paris.

While known for his vibrant paintings, Manjit Bawa loved drawing and sketching. He passed away in December 2008 at the age of 67, after being in coma for three years post suffering a stroke. Bawa’s paintings have fetched millions of dollars at auctions in both Indian and abroad.  

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