Artists > Gieve Patel

GIEVE PATEL, Mourning woman, 1992, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 76.2 cm / 36 x 30 in


A self-taught artist dedicated to multiple professions, Gieve Patel has imaged a sensitive and acute awareness of the human condition throughout a 40-year painting practice. Sourcing inspiration from the quietude of nature and the pulse of the city, his work articulates a mature, restrained balance between figuration rooted in realistic naturalism and the freedom of painterly abstraction. Along with three books of verse and three plays, Patel has written extensively about contemporary Indian art and, until his recent retirement, was also a practicing physician.

Patel published his first book of poems and held his earliest solo exhibition in Bombay in 1966, which was followed by exhibitions at Kunika Chemould, Delhi in 1972 and Gallery Chemould, Bombay, in 1975. In the 1970s and 80s, he refined an ability to describe the universal experience of isolation in eloquent representations of the urban industrial landscape and common people, sites, and even animals in Bombay. During this period, Patel's artistic practice dovetailed with initiatives of artists based in Baroda and Bombay who responded to contemporary politics and everyday situations with an emphasis on narrative figuration.

While continuing to build on these themes, Patel began a distinct trope of representing violent deaths in the 1980s. In works like Crushed Head (1984) and Battered Man in Landscape (1993), the artist rendered victimized heads and torsos detached from specific aggressors and locational contexts. Like the resilient figures living in his urban-scapes, Patel wounded his victims with empathetic sensitivity and characteristic attention to the contoured shadows and colors at heart of the human form.

In the 1990s, Patel embarked on a long-term series of visual translations drawn from the wells of his ancestral Gujarat. Exhibiting the first of these works in the exhibition Looking into a Well at Gallery Chemould in 1996, Patel's paintings of this subject privilege an expressive, self-conscious recording of the experience of perception. Eliminating the encounter of one's own face that would reflect back from the surface of the water, and transforming the horizontal well into a vertically-hung canvas, the conceptual address of these works ties closely to the artist's persistent attention to the position of the human figure.

Beth Citron

Born 1940 in Mumbai
1964 Graduated as a Doctor of Medicine from Grant Medical College, Mumbai
Lives and works in Mumbai

How to Inhabit Your Skin | Conversation between Gieve Patel and Ranjit Hoskote | Library, MMB

Gieve Patel's recent exhibition of paintings, 'Footboard Rider' at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai (2017), carries forward his lifelong preoccupations with the marginal figure, the intimations of the transcendental conveyed by the experience of looking at clouds or into wells, and the conditions of extremity and vulnerability attendant on the human condition. In this talk, the artist engages in conversation with poet and cultural theorist, Ranjit Hoskote, who has known Patel and his work for three decades. At the centre of the conversation lies the closely related themes of intimacy and alienation, self-understanding and self-unknowing that recur in Patel's work in the visual arts, poetry and theatre.

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’, the Museum Gallery (presented by Guild Art Gallery), Mumbai
  • 2003
    ‘Gieve Patel’, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
  • 2000
    ‘Gieve Patel Paintings 1997-2000’, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
  • 1995
    ‘Gieve Patel – Looking into a Well’ (presented by Gallery Chemould), Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1994
    ‘Gieve Patel’, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
  • 1990
    ‘Gieve Patel’, Art Heritage, New Delhi
  • 1987
    ‘Drawings by Gieve Patel’, Gallery Chemould, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1984
    ‘Gieve Patel: Paintings’, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1979
    ‘Gieve Patel’, Art Heritage, New Delhi
  • 1975
    ‘Gieve Patel’, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
  • 1972
    ‘Gieve Patel’, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1970
    ‘Gieve Patel Paintings and Prints’, Kunika-Chemould Art Centre, New Delhi
  • 1967
    ‘Gieve Patel’, Sridharani Gallery, New Delhi
  • 1966
    1966 ‘Gieve Patel Paintings and Pastel Drawings’, sponsored by Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom, Mumbai at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

Group Exhibitions

  • 2019

    India Art Fair, presented by Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, New Delhi

  • 2018

    From the Collection, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai

  • 2017
    'India Re-Worlded: Seventy Years of Investigating a Nation', curated by Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala, Gallery Odyssey, Mumbai
  • 2016

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

  • 2016
    ‘No Parsi is an Island’, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
  • 2013
    ‘No Parsi is an Island’, National Gallery of Modern Art, 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
    'Multiple Modernities: India, 1905-2005’, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
  • 2007
    '1st Anniversary' show, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai
  • 2007
    'Gateway Bombay', Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
  • 2006
    'The Startling View from the Studio: Gieve Patel & Sudhir Patwardhan', Bose Pacia, New York
  • 2003
    'Crossing Generations: Diverge', 40 years of Gallery Chemould, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
  • 2000
    ‘Embarkations: the Millennium Show’, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1997
    'Indian Contemporary Art Post Independence', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
  • 1987
    ‘Coups de Coeur’, Halle de I’lle, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1986
    'Contemporary Art of India: The Herwitz Collection', Worcester, Massachusetts
  • 1985
    'Contemporary Indian Art', Grey Art Gallery and Study Centre, New York University, New York
  • 1985
    'Exhibition of the Collection of Richardson Hindustan Company', organized by Mr. Gurucharan Das, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1982
    Inaugural Exhibition, Roopankar Museum of Fine Art, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
  • 1982
    ‘India, Myth, and Reality: Aspects of Modern Indian Art’, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
  • 1982
    'Contemporary Indian Art’, Royal Academy of Art, London
  • 1979
    'Focus: 4 Painters 4 Directions', with  Bhupen Khakhar, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
  • 1978
    'Six Who Declined to Show at the Triennial', Kumar Gallery, New Delhi
  • 1978
    ‘New Contemporaries’, curated by Gulammohamed Sheikh for MARG, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1977
    'Pictorial Space', Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi
  • 1976
    Biennale de Menton, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France


  • 1992
    Rockefeller Fellowship, University of Chicago, Illinois
  • 1984
    Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, The Wilson Center, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.