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Manjit Bawa


It is a little startling to discover that apart from an authorised biography of Manjit Bawa by Ina Puri, and now these Manjit Bawa “Readings” compiled and edited by Puri again, no book has been written about one of the finest Indian artists of our time. The first in the Readings series, Manjit Bawa introduces a set of writings on the artist and sculptor. The Readings series, published by the Lalit Kala Akademi, will prove to be invaluable to our understanding of contemporary masters. Manjit Bawa contains several critiques by those who have known Bawa closely and experts who have analysed his work objectively. It contains writings by Manjit Bawa himself, Krishen Khanna, Manish Pushkale, Akhilesh, singer and poet Madan Gopal Singh, Ashok Vajpayi (chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi), and filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta, among others. Touching upon his childhood and his personal life, Manjit Bawa is a collection of already published writings, and some new essays. Manjit Bawa’s work has always intrigued us, and few have really understood it. What may be gathered from Manjit Bawa is that Bawa’s colours are beautifully “popsicle” (to use Bawa’s own term), his surfaces absolutely smooth and flat but emanating both depth and a certain luminosity. There is no stroky brushwork. His art is minimalistic, capturing a sense of drama. “My art became sahej” after years of hard work, he writes disarmingly. His worldview as an artist has strong elements of the Sufianna approach and Zen. His fondness for Rumi and Bulle Shah is captured in the lines quoted by him: “Trust life, simply trust, Do not the petals simply flutter down like that?” Animals and humans share the same physical space and, as Ranjit Hoskote writes in his essay on Bawa, “engage in a wordless dialogue”. Hoskote wonders in awe in the book: “How can two beings, who share the same physical environment but occupy separate mental universes, compare their respective experience of the world?” But Sufi philosophy had taught Bawa that man and animals can co-exist. Naïve rubber-like figures which inhabit his world have an unflappable serenity, even if about to perform the most violent act. A taut sense of the violent and the political is set against a calmness that belies the depiction. Crucial elements like magic realism and a deceptive simplicity of his pliable forms add up to make Bawa great.

Editor: Ina Puri
Year: 2010
Price: Rs. 1000
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 220
Dimensions: 8.5 in x 5.5 in
Publisher: Lalit Kala Akademi
Sales Restriction:
ISBN 13: 9788187507420

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