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Painter, engraver and silk-screen printer-
Satish Panchal spoke about his development as an artist, and recounted his early life in Mumbai in the 1940s. He said: "The
advantage of studying in a big city like Mumbai was that the students could get hold of foreign art magazines through the British Library, the USIS or the Alliance Francaise, and could meet
fellow young artists at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan and the Bhulabhai Art Institute where Indian classical music concerts and dance programs were preformed."
A few artists worked in the studios of the Bhulabhai Arts Center where he first met Homi Patel and Gaitonde, both abstract painters, particularly inspiring as far as monochromy and research on space was concerned. He liked the meditative aspect of their work.
Satish Panchal was further acquainted with the works of contemporary painters, exhibiting at Gallery Chemould when working there, especially the paintings of Ambadas and Ramkumar and early collages of Himmat Shah, and later on Nasreen Mohamedi's works. Other artist friends whose works he also admired whether abstract or figurative were Jeram Patel, Subramaniyam and contemporaries like Prabhakar Barwe, Swaminathan, Lalitha Lajmi, Altaf and the Koltes. According to him, he has particularly been influenced by Supermatism and the Russian avant-garde, painters like Ivan Kljun, Ksenija Ender, El Lissitzky and Malevich of course, and American painters Ad Reinhardt and lately Robert Ryman.
He took to spirituality in the sixties, and attended several lectures of J Krishnamurthy and Acharya Rajneesh, whose teachings influenced him greatly as an individual and as an artist. The latter, especially had analyzed the approach of modern art in particular of abstraction in connection with the contemplation.
To begin with, he painted a series of oil paintings mixed with sand on canvas. The series titled 'Horses' was first exhibited at Gallery Chemould in the year 1964, and was extremely well received. The 'Horses' served as a pretext to create and compose space. After his third one-man show on the same theme, he decided to eliminate them because he did not want to be tagged as only doing 'horses', and was wary of getting stereotyped.
He was always attracted to non-representative art. As stated above, when he started, he improvised on 'horses'. They were sort of representative work - more graphic in nature. Then he slowly he veered towards minimal art. He was already acquainted with the works of American painters like Rothko, De Kooning, Sam Francis and Barnett Newman who inspired him particularly in their approach towards space and color. In 1970, just before his marriage, and just before leaving for Europe, he participated in a joint show with his three artists friends, namely Ambadas, Darshan and Altaf. Later, he settled in France.
There he came across the works of French artist Sima and Belgian painter Henri Michaux. He was also very much impressed by Malevich's retrospective show. Soon, he started visiting the art galleries and museums in Europe to study the trends in contemporary art. In the 1980s, he painted a series of monochromes, which he exhibited in a solo show at Basel International Art fair in 1982. In 1978, the French Ministry of Culture attributed a studio to him in Bateau-Lavoir, after they had bought his works in various salons. It's an historical place where Cubism was born.
As the artists explains: "Over a period of time, I discovered the very silence the paintings exuded. Space formed the crux of my work. I always cared to create space." Rendering that space with geometrical forms was his challenge as an artist, and moving into abstractions was a natural progression. The textural value of his paintings, collages, or engravings is noteworthy. The artist is also inspired by the Indian classical music, as he visualizes his forms - irrespective of the media he works on.
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