The muted palate of Jehangir Sabavala belies his exuberance as a painter. This renowned painter is always eager to experiment with form and color. He says “My art, a mixture of academic, impressionist and cubist texture, form and color, acquired a distinct style in the mid ’60s. And with each step I have evolved a new experience. But if I look back, I find I have carried all the elements forward."
Art Now in India Exhibition, the Venice Biennale,
The exhibition of the Arts Council of Great Britain,
The 7th Triennale, India, the Masters of India Art Show, Mumbai,
The Sothebys Islamic & Indian Art show, London
The Christies Indian Contemporary Paintings, London.
Born in Mumbai in 1922 Sabavala studied art in the prestigious J. J. School of Arts. He graduated in 1944 and went to Europe to pursue a master degree from the Heatherley School of Art, London.
This prodigious painter has held 27 one-man shows across India and abroad, and participated in prominent exhibitions all over the world. The most prominent of these exhibitions are:
Sabavala prefers oil to any other medium; he creates almost luminous landscapes, seascapes and figures using his paintbrush as a magic baton to conjure exquisite scenes on his canvases. His paintings reflect a fascination for veiled light and middle-tones. They appeal to him much more than pure colors and loud imagery. In Jehangir Sabavala paintings we see a marriage of styles. The fine synthesis of modernist style with a deeply ingrained classical influence makes his works novel and noteworthy.
In his paintings one can also trace cubist influence- he is famous for the geometric wedges of paints, which he puts together to form vast, tranquil scenes. These wedges are layered in such a way that they give an impression of depth. Sabavala’s is truly a master of texturing.
The figurative journey in Sabavala paintings is worth documenting. In his early works the human form used to lurk around in the shadows, shrouded in silence and embodying the notion of solitude. Over the years this figure has more confidently revealed itself but it’s still emotionally distanced from the viewer. Suggesting perhaps the painter’s meditative approach towards his craft.
In Jehangir Sabavala’s amazing career spanning more than sixty years he has earned many laurels including the prestigious Padma Shri, but the painter in him is proudest when he sees viewers pondering over his art, that according to him “is the greatest reward”.