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WELLS CLOUDS SKULLS marks Gieve Patel’s second exhibition with Bose Pacia. The exhibition includes three new large-scale paintings from the artist's “Looking into a Well” series along with a selection of drawings from his cloud and skull series. For over twenty years, the artist has been exploring the theme of wells in his paintings. However, his artistic career has spanned across four decades and began with an in-depth look at human figures in very tactile and unapologetic situations. That he has now spent such an extensive time looking, and looking is the operative word, into wells, shows a significant shift and maturation in the artist’s conceptual trajectory.
In his earlier paintings, Dr. Patel was able to draw attention to the basic cycles of life through, often shocking, studies of individuals in all levels of Indian culture. The sensitive handling of the subjects led to thoughtful questions of quotidian existence and value. By removing the reflected subject/self from the well paintings, the artist is able to ever more effectively explore the cycle of one’s own life by creating a metaphor for self-observation and awareness via the ebb and flow of light, structure, foliage, and sky reflected in his wells. Patel has said, of this series:
"From boyhood onwards, I have never been able to pass by a well without looking into it. But it was only at the age of 50 that I first attempted to make a painting of this experience. I believed at that time that one or two paintings would be sufficient to cover the ground. However I found that the subject was inexhaustible. There was always another version waiting around the corner. It seemed that I could happily paint as many different paintings on this theme as an actual well itself will change almost from hour to hour depending upon the changes in the light and the reflected sky. Also, of course, the construction of each well and the vegetation growing from the sides will differ. Eventually, these wells have been pointers to me of a congruence between outer and inner realities."
And it is with this same inexhaustible drive to capture the active nuances of observation that Patel has approached his cloud and skull drawings. The collection of drawings document the passing sky as it supplies an endless stock of cloud formations as well as the subtle but distinct differences between human skulls.
Born in Mumbai in 1940, Gieve Patel is a practicing physician, an artist, a poet and a playwright. His paintings are in public and private collections in India and in other countries, including the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal; the Jehangir Nicholson Collection, Mumbai; the Museum of Modern Art, Menton, France; the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts. Selected exhibitions include the Menton Biennale, France 1976; India, Myth and Reality, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford 1982; Contemporary Indian Art, Royal Academy of Art, London 1982; Contemporary Indian Art, Grey Art Gallery, New York, 1985, Coups de Coeur, Halle Sud, Geneva, 1987; Six who Declined to show at the Triennale, New Delhi, 1978; The Times of India -- Timeless Art, Mumbai, 1989; and Crossing Generations: Diverge, Mumbai, 2003. Patel's poems have been widely published, and his plays have been published and performed. Patel is a recipient of Woodrow Wilson and Rockefeller Fellowships. The artist lives and works in Mumbai.