Artists > Gieve Patel

GIEVE PATEL, The Letter Home, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 149.8 x 182.8 cm / 59 x 72 in


No artist in India is better prepared to stare death in the face than Gieve Patel. Having admitted to a "slightly sick concern with the body," at least in his poetry, a significant portion of his painterly output has also focused on physical pain, suffering, and degradation. These preoccupations are typically associated with the artist/writer's parallel life as a doctor. Certainly, Patel's 'Meditations on Old Age' appear to contemplate the approach of death from a clinical distance, through a dispassionate analysis of the slackened skin of bloated faces. But the series also shows evidence of a finely tuned painterliness, their surfaces mottled with a carefully modulated series of textures. Old age is surely the main subject tackled by these works, but the series of paintings also offer us an opportunity to contemplate mastery.

The four paintings, done in oils, are of moderate size. They are made in a relatively unusual palette that mixes saturated hues of green, red, yellow, or blue with almost unbearably fleshy yellows and pinks. Though each painting is a study of a face, most of the features blend together--the nose, mouth, cheekbones, and eyes barely discernable in textured mass of surface ornament. In each, one element of the face is highlighted, whether a bluntly recognizable part in the hair or the fleetingly visible veins on the eyelid. Mastery is demonstrated here not through virtuosity or monumentality, but rather through the calm, controlled, and deliberately visible decisions made by the painter. The enduring power and continued potential of painting is under consideration here.

Patel poses the question of painting's future after a decades long career in which he has consistently found in the medium the ethical and political tools with which to confront the human experience. This has come in through the parallel pursuit of three main themes: the contemplation of the suffering body, the everyday life of his home city of Bombay/Mumbai, and the relationship between human beings and nature. A noted poet, playwright, and art critic as well as a painter, Gieve Patel has worked in dialogue with overlapping communities of the arts, centered in Bombay, since the late-1960s. It is fitting that the first of the Meditations was exhibited at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke in the exhibition 'Touched by Bhupen' (2013-14), which explored how Khakhar's work offered a site ofmeeting for artists. Karin Zitzewitz, 2015

Born 1940 in Mumbai
1964 Graduated as a Doctor of Medicine from Grant Medical College,Mumbai
Self Taught Artist
Lives in Mumbai

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2017

    'Footboard Rider', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai

  • 2011
    'Wells Clouds Skulls', Bose Pacia, New York
  • 2009
    'Gieve Patel: Select Works 1971-2006', Gallery Threshold, New Delhi and Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai
  • 2007
    'Eklavya/Daphne', Museum Gallery; The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 2003
    Gieve Patel, Gallery Chemould; Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
  • 2002
    Sakshi Gallery; Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 2001
    Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore
  • 2000
    'Gieve Patel Paintings 1997-2000', Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
  • 1995
    'Looking into a Well – Paintings and Drawings', organized by Gallery Chemould at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1994
    Gallery Chemould, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1992
    'Exhibition of Paintings', Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1990
    Art Heritage, New Delhi
  • 1989
    Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1987
    'Drawings by Gieve Patel', Gallery Chemould, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1984
    'Exhibition of Paintings', Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1979
    Art Heritage, Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi
  • 1979
    Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1975
    Gieve Patel, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
  • 1973
    Kunika Chemould, New Delhi
  • 1972
    Gieve Patel, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1970
    'Gieve Patel Paintings and Prints', Kunika-Chemould Art Centre, New Delhi
  • 1967
    Sridharani Gallery, New Delhi
  • 1966
    'Gieve Patel Paintings and Pastel Drawings', sponsored by Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom, Mumbai at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2016

    'DWELLING', 10th Anniversary Show, curated by Ranjit Hoskote, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai

  • 2013
    'Touched by Bhupen', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2013
    'Subject of Death', Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai
  • 2011
    'The Body Unbound', Rubin Museum of Art, New York
  • 2008
    'Gateway Bombay', Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
  • 2008
    'Multiple Modernities: India', 1905-2005, Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA
  • 2007
    '1st Anniversary', Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2006
    The Startling View from the Studio: Gieve Patel & Sudhir Patwardhan', Bose Pacia, New York
  • 2003
    'Crossing Generations: Diverge', 40 years of Gallery Chemould at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai
  • 1997
    'Indian Contemporary Art Post Independence', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
  • 1986
    'Contemporary Art of India: The Herwitz Collection', Worcester, Massachusetts
  • 1985
    'Contemporary Indian Art', Grey Art Gallery and Study Centre, New York University
  • 1985
    'Exhibition of the Collection of Richardson Hindustan Company', organized by Mr. Gurucharan Das, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1982
    Inaugural Exhibition, Roopankar, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
  • 1979
    'Focus: 4 Painters 4 Directions', Gallery Chemould, Mumbai. Artists: Bhupen Khakhar, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, Gieve Patel
  • 1978
    'Six Who Declined to Show at the Triennial', Kumar Gallery, New Delhi
  • 1977
    'Pictorial Space', Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi

Awards and Honors

  • 2003
    C. R. Parekh Writer in Residence, Nirman Foundation Grant, University of Pennsylvania
  • 1992
    Rockefeller Fellowship, University of Chicago
  • 1984
    Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, The Wilson Center, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC