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 Vasudeo S Gaitonde  (1924 - 2001)

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Lived/Active: India      Known for: abstract, non-objective painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (1924–2001) was regarded as India's foremost abstract artist. He received Padma Shri Award in 1971.

Gaitonde was born in Maharashtra of Goan Parentage. He received his diploma from the Sir J. J. School of Art in 1948[1] He died in 2001.

Vasudev S. Gaitonde was regarded as one of the most finest and cloistered abstract painter of India. Vasudev Gaitonde was born in 1924 and had received his diploma from the J. J. School of Art in Mumbai in 1948. Impressed by his work, Vasudev was invited to join the Progressive Artists Group of Bombay. He actively participated in the activities of the group. He had several exhibitions held in India as well as in foreign countries.

In 1956, he participated in the Indian art exhibition which was held in east European countries. He also participated in other group exhibitions held at the Graham art gallery, New York in 1959 and 1963. Gaitonde's abstract works are produced in many Indian and overseas collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1957, he was awarded the first prize at the Young Asian Artists Exhibition, Tokyo and the Rockefeller Fellowship followed in 1964. In 1971, he was awarded the Padma Shri i.e. the highest award for creative excellence given by the Government of India.

Gaitonde experimented hugely with form and shape in his works. Vasudev’s wraithlike and multifarious paintings invoke a concealed and obscure description of the real world, however Gaitonde highly disregarded the title of ‘abstractionist’ labeled on him. Vasudev had a profound influence of Zen philosophy and ancients calligraphy on him. In the midst of his art work, one could notice the control and the conglomerated structure finely depicted. Gaitonde preferred to enjoy a slow and a meticulous painting process unlike his contemporaries that is why he produced only a few finished works. Gaitonde’s use of symbolic element and very few ground lines made his work appear like a flowing river. Gaitonde’s work reminds us of artists like Paul Klee and Joan Miró whom he had studied during his college days.

"… that red painting, it's like exposed blood, and bones, and tissue…. There's an element of passion somewhere…

Gaitonde's captivating visions, enchanted a viewer to extol this remarkable pronouncement, and many more in this verve by people touched, by the intensity of his poignant images. Infinite in their immense deliberations and binding spirit. Vasudev S. Gaitonde is with undoubted conviction one of India's most profound and evocative artists, who has established his eminent presence and impressed his empyrean vision into the canons of contemporary Indian art.

Gaitonde was born in 1924, in Nagpur, Maharastra to Goan parents. He completed his art diploma at the J.J. School of Art, Bombay in 1948. In 1947, and with another international reputed painter from Goa, Francis Newton Sousa, along with other artist friends, he founded the 'Progressive Artist Group', with a broad awareness to break away from the past, from a manner oppressively weighed down by colonial academism and cliched Indianess, to pave the way for an international idiom. This movement put into perspective modern Indian art, setting the pace for today's vibrant art environment in the country.

Gaitonde was on the fringe of this historic group, but evident in a conversation I had with him, he said: "I was different to it". Indifferent, as he was never with the collective, but an individual, this being the central characteristic of his artistic personality. His non-conformist nature was accompanied by a firm believe in his identity as a painter, and because of his firmness, Gaitonde isolated himself very early in his career from everything in his environment which he considered irrelevant to his identity as a painter, his growth over the years is marked by an increasing inwardness and a meticulous and watchful consolidation of this identity.

"A quiet man and a painter of the quite reaches of the imagination" as one of his admirers once called him, defines Gaitonde best, who has the appearance of an intellectual, literally simmering with some unexplored thought. Conceptually, he never considered himself an abstract painter and is averse to be called one. In fact he asserts that there is no such thing as abstract painting, instead he refers to his work as "non-objective" a kind of personalized hieroglyphics and calligraphic inventions, evoking the surface painted on with the most astounding intuitions, which he has realised in his inevitable meeting, in discovering Zen.

The meditative Zen quality that transpires his speech, emoting silence is exemplified in his work best, as silence is eternal and meaningful in itself, from this point one does tend to identify the mysterious motifs, the highly personalised hieroglyphs in Gaitonde's canvasses with the manifestation of intuitions, invested in their various variegated orders, seeking to open the space, to be filled by the mind. The textural structure with the interplay of colour in Gaitonde's paintings are the central devices that conduct into motion, the mysterious "Self " of the painting, it is hieratic but implicit, it is never insistent. His compositions possessed what might be called animation, a kinetic power that imparts movement to the delicately balanced configurations, for Gaitonde governed their formulations with a feeling for the form that was imperative. He devised each construction in colour, an organ that had its own internal harmonic life. For Gaitonde art starts in an intensity that moves steadily towards refining itself and every moment for him is philosophically speculative and hence nothing prevents him from the realm of his creative impulses in exploring their inward spaces and fleeting realities. His paintings refer only to themselves, the process is the result, the non-objective preoccupation is resolute, in art as in life.

Gaitonde makes the on-looker simply gaze at his paintings as they represent a marvelous illusion of form, color and painting. He has the power to make simple objects to turn into spiritual elements. The artist had tremendous talent and skill in shading which makes his work look like a never ending abyss. Gaitonde uses a roller and a palette knife, to thoroughly influence and mix different mediums on the canvas. His art work appers to sublime with each element evaporating in some other form. His abstract paintings with their lucid beams of light evoke concealed depths. Gaitonde’s work appears to radiate a meditative charm with large planar surfaces and subtle layers of paint on the canvas. His paintings have an attribute of light that seems to be complete in it. His work builds up pigments and later they are carefully removed for the desired effect that Gaitonde creates.

V.S. Gaitonde was the first Indian contemporary painter whose work was sold for Rs. 92 lakhs at the Osians art auction. Gaitonde died in 2002. VS Gaitonde is still considered as one of India's foremost abstractionists and an ethereal painter. info by www.arnkalwankar.com

Awards
    •    First prize at the Young Asian Artists Exhibition. Tokyo in 1957
    •    Rockefeller Fellowship in 1964.
    •    Padma Shri in 1971.

Source:
wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasudeo_S._Gaitonde


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Gaitonde was famously private. He gave few interviews, wrote next to nothing about his art, and only produced five or six paintings a year. Very little is known about his personal life. As the late art critic Dnyaneshwar Nadkarni explained in 1983, “Gaitonde isolated himself very early in his career from everything in his environment which he considered irrelevant to [his] intensity as a painter." A few details emerge: He received a diploma from the Sir J.J. School of Art in 1948, and was awarded first prize at the Young Asian Artits’ Exhibition in Tokyo in 1957, where he may also have traveled (experts are still unsure). What’s clear is that the American Abstract Expressionists made a significant impact on his artistic vision: In 1964 he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant and spent several years in New York, where he was profoundly influenced by painters like Mark Rothko. In 1971, he was given the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards. Gaitonde was born in Maharashtra, India, in 1924, and passed away in New Delhi in 2001. While he lived, his work appeared in solo shows in New Delhi, Mumbai and New York; posthumously, his work has appeared in dozens of group shows around the world, and, at the time this was written, was scheduled for a solo retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in November, 2014.
Source:
Christie's Mumbai

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