B. 1924 - D. 2001
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde is one of India's most profound and evocative artists, who has established his eminent presence and impressed his sublime vision into the canons of contemporary Indian art. In 1947, 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 clichéd Indianess to pave the way for an international idiom. Gaitonde played a vital role in establishing the foundations of abstraction in India. It can be said that he was an artist who was indeed ahead of time who ventured into the mode of abstraction.
The break down of representation seen in his use of symbols, calligraphic elements and hieroglyphs served as a bridge into Gaitonde’s later fully abstracted paintings, as his concurrent study of Zen Buddhism began to influence his though process and his art. Influenced by Zen philosophy and ancient calligraphy, his works have an inherent structure and control on the midst of their stream of consciousness composition. The mysterious and personalized hieroglyphs of Gaitonde are the manifestations of intuitions invested in the eternal and meaningful silence, seeking to open up the space. In Gaitonde’s works a spiritual sublimation was created and the translucent planes created an underwater ambience. The reclusive master experimented with form and shape in his works evoking subliminal depths in his works.
Unlike his more prolific contemporaries, Gaitonde produced very few finished works during his lifetime, preferring instead a slow and meticulous painting process. His technique of meticulously applying and then removing paint with a palette knife allows him to control his canvas to a startling exactitude. Gaitonde’s characteristic feature is his lack of ground line and use of symbolic elements to build his lyrical compositions. Through a brilliant manipulation of form, colour and technique, he has the ability to transform basic elements into platforms from spiritual introspection. 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 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. His non-conformist nature was accompanied by a firm belief 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.