Ahmedabad's Kite man, Bhanu Shah presents a vivid display of abstracts at Amdavad ni Gufa

Fondly known as Ahmedabad’s kite man, Bhanu Shah is among the eminent modern abstract painters of India. Now in his eighties and affected by a weakened eyesight, he still continues to paint vibrant images of ethereal quality. Find out how an artist who loved painting landscapes, unexpectedly discovers abstracts ! Also read about his latest solo show displaying 65 vivid abstracts that opened at the Amdavad ni Gufa on December 20,2018

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Artist Bhanu Shah at his solo show in Ahmedabad, December 2018

Back in the year 1950s, a young Bhanu Shah spent a lot of time at Le Corbusier’s iconic Sanskar Kendra Museum, around the time it was coming into being. Shah had a deep fascination for kites and he had an enourmous kite collection, which he donated to the city and created and curated the much loved Kite Museum of Ahmedabad, housed on the ground floor of the Sanskar Kendra. Unlike now, the surroundings of the museum didn’t have any urban development or other high-rises. Infact the museum overlooked a thick plantation, almost like a small forest that merged into the blue waters of Sabarmati. During his frequent visits while sitting at the museum the artist felt awe-inspired while looking at the sheer beauty of lush green trees, which were vivaciously moving in wild rhythms like gorgeous brown-green dressed danseuses. He loved painting landscapes of that scenic beauty in his drawing book, but fate had a different plan for him.

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On one such fortunate occasion Shah, after drawing a landscape in his drawing book accidentally closed it to realise that it’s far too late for the wet drawing to be saved now. But to his surprise, he unexpectedly found his eureka moment, after he saw the abstract impressions imprinted of that landscape on the other side of the drawing paper. It was a defining moment in Shah’s career as an artist. As per his description, “it felt as if the thick glasses covering my creative eyes were suddenly removed and gave me a clear vision of the beauty I was searching”. An artist who loved painting landscapes transformed into India’s foremost abstractionist and won many laurels over his artistic career. Shah has participated in more than 80 solo shows and many more group shows around the world during the span of his illustrious career. Bhanu Shah studied Fine Arts and later did post graduate studies in Museology from MS University, Baroda. To put this phenomena in his own words “like a crazy man I kept scribbling using ink, colours, pastels and everything around him.”

The story was shared by octogenarian artist Bhanu Shah, with a beaming face while sitting with me and his two bosom friends at his recently opened solo show at Amdavad Ni Gufa on the chilly evening of December 20, 2018. The opening of the show witnessed a flock of art adorers including art entrepreneur Anil Relia, artist and connoisseur Surendra Patel, and senior artist Amit Ambalal.

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The time-honoured artist who is unfortunately facing the challenge of weakened eyesight, was cheerful and warm in welcoming guests and visitors at the inaugural. The show has on displays his vibrant abstracts, 65 of them, which he created in the 2015-16 period. Shah prefers to use cotton ball, instead of the traditional paint brush to create his canvases. All the works are made using oil paint and he doesn’t shy away from using his hands to give desired texture to the paint. Shah joyfully expresses that nothing can stop him from painting, and promises to continue painting till his last breath. Each work of art is multilayered with an uproar of vibrant tones merging within each other. Within this I could see two styles emerging, one kinds where there was a clear absence of any line or stroke and the other type where minor edges could be felt within the abstract shapes. Each is equally captivating.

Each art work is of similar size and are available to collectors at INR 36,000/- per each. Shah who has firsthand experience of pre and post-independent India and was never hesitant in experimenting with mediums. He made collages, relief works, ink art, watercolour and acrylic painting but his artistic devotion was always inclined most towards oil colours. Witness the abstract magic of Bhanu Shah at Gufa until December 23rd every day from 4 pm to 8 pm.

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