NEW DELHI: At a memorial meeting organised at the National Gallery of Modern Art here on Friday to condole painter Tyeb Mehta’s death on July 2, many of the painter’s friends and contemporaries paid tributes and remembered him for his work and irrepressible spirit despite having faced adversities.
“His legacy was his spirit of survival,” said art historian Yashodhara Dalmia.
Ram Kumar, an associate and contemporary who was close to Tyeb Mehta, said: “He never made compromises on his art. The painter lived a life mired in financial and health-related difficulties. By the time he gained success it was already late.”
NGMA director Prof. Rajeev Lochan said that according to art critic Keshav Malik, Tyeb Mehta had intense focus and dedication for his work and it was necessary to applaud the artist more than his works. Also quoting film director Shyam Benegal, Prof. Lochan said the director felt Tyeb Mehta was an extraordinary artist and human being. Despite his illnesses and periods of adversity, he still produced vivid and brilliant paintings that seemed to emerge from great depths of emotion.
According to Mr. Benegal, Tyeb Mehta was one of the stellar figures of the progressive movement and one of the greatest modernists of the times. Noted painter Satish Gujral was also present but did not speak owing to illness. His address was read out by Prof. Lochan who said that Gujral felt a mixture of loss and relief when Tyeb Mehta passed away. The loss was felt because the painter would no longer enrich the art treasures of the country, but there was also a sense of relief because the artist had experienced intense health difficulties in his final years and death was therefore a release.
Art critic Geeta Kapur said: “Tyeb Mehta belongs to a magnificent generation of painters. He stands out among them for being the quintessential modernist.” Mr. Lochan also read out a condolence message sent by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.