Studiorameshwaram pays tribute to Tyeb Mehta


Tyeb Mehta, a famous Indian painter, sculptor and film maker, was born on 26 July 1925 in Gujarat. He left for London in 1959, where he worked and lived till 1964. Thereafter, he visited the New York City, where he was awarded a fellowship from the John D. Rockefeller 3rd Fund in 1968.

During his stay in London, his style was influenced by the expressionist works of Francis Bacon. But while in New York, his work came to be characterised by minimalism.

He made a three-minute film, Koodal, which he shot at the Bandra slaughter house. It won the Filmfare Critics Award in 1970.

He also remained an Artist-in-Residence at the Santiniketan between 1984–85, and returned to Mumbai.

He was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, which drew stylistic inspiration from Western Modernism, and included greats of Indian paintings such as F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza and M.F. Husain. Common themes of his works were trussed bulls, the rickshaw puller, from where he moved to the Diagonal series, which he created through the 1970s. Later in life, he added Falling Figures made in 1991, based on his experience of witnessing the violent death of a man in the street during the Partition of India riots of 1947.  Besides adding several mythological figures into his work, highlighted by the depictions of goddess Kali and demon Mahishasura.

Tyeb Mehta held the then record for the highest price an Indian painting has ever sold for at auction ($317,500 USD) for Celebration at Christie’s in 2002

In May 2005, his painting Kali sold for 10 million Indian rupees.  A reinterpretation of the tale of demon Mahishasura by Mehta showing goddess Durga locked in an embrace with the demon sold for $1.584 million. In 2008 one of his paintings sold for $2 million.

He received several awards during his career including the Padma Bhushan in 2007.

 He died on 2 July 2009 at a Mumbai hospital following a heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Sakina, their son, Yusuf, and daughter, Himani and a number of grandchildren.