Tyeb Mehta Indian, 1925-2009


Born in 1925 in Kapadvanj, Gujarat, Tyeb Mehta was initially a film editor but his interest in painting led him to the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, from where he graduated in 1952. He was also a member of the Progressive Artists’ Group in India. While Mehta was also known to have adopted the pictorial language of European art through the 1950s and 1960s, he turned to Indian themes and subjects through the 1970s and 1980s. From painting images of rickshaw-wallahs and the trussed bull, Mehta narrowed down his search for the eternal in the complex through layered images and concepts of Hindu mythology. Through the nineties, his imagination was captured by the myth and different incarnations of Devi, the goddess. His work is characterized by matt surfaces, diagonal lines breaking his canvases, and images of anguish – a result of his preoccupation with formalist means of expression.


Apart from several solo exhibitions in his lifetime, Mehta participated in international shows like Ten Contemporary Indian Painters at Trenton in the US (1965); Deuxieme Biennale Internationale de Menton, (1974); Festival Internationale de la Peinture, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France (1974); Modem Indian Paintings at Hirschhom Museum, Washington, (1982); and Seven Indian Painters at Gallerie Le Monde de U art, Paris (1994), among others.


He received a Rockefeller Fund Scholarship in 1968 and was awarded the Kalidas Samman by the Madhya Pradesh Government in 1988.

The artist died in 2009.