Manu Parekh (b. 1939)
Contemporary Modernist artist, Manu Parekh is renowned for his colourful, non-representational landscape paintings of Benares (now Varanasi).
Born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Parekh studied at Sheth CN Vidyavihar Fine Arts College, Ahmedabad, before pursuing a diploma in drawing and painting from the JJ School of Art, Mumbai, in 1962. Here, he was introduced to miniature paintings by SB Palsikar, who also mentored him in technical skills. From 1963 to 1965, Parekh worked as a designer at the Weavers’ Service Centre, Mumbai, under the mentorship of Pupul Jayakar, and met artists KG Subramanyan and Haku Shah. Parekh moved to Kolkata in 1965, then Delhi in 1975, where he began working as a design consultant at the Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corporation (HHEC). This gave him an opportunity to travel extensively and closely observe artisans and craftspeople in rural India while also learning techniques such as pattern-making. After working with HHEC for over twenty years, he began practising as an independent artist.
Parekh’s work has been influenced by several Indian artists, such as MF Husain, FN Souza, Bhupen Khakhar, Rabindranath Tagore and Ramkinker Baij, as well as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso. His art also draws from theatre, folk art, craft, literature and poetry. Exploring the relationship between humans and nature, his practice explores abstracts, rituals, animal forms, human heads, portraits, still life and representations of faith. In 1980, Parekh visited Benares for the first time, following his father’s death, and soon after, began painting the ghats of the city — a subject he continued working with for over three decades. In 2016, Parekh created a 45-foot long site-specific installation for Rajeev Sethi’s Jaya He Museum at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, as well as a 32-foot long painting inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
His works have been shown at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi; Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; Art Alive Gallery, Delhi; Vadehra Art Gallery, Delhi; and Bose Pacia, New York, among others. He received the Birla Academy Art and Culture Award (1971 and 1991), the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society Award (1972 and 1974), the National Award from the Lalit Kala Akademi (1982) and the Padma Shri (1992) for his contribution to the arts.
At the time of writing, Parekh lives and works in Delhi.
Manu Parekh. “Biography”. Accessed June 14, 2021. http://manu-parekh.com/.
Kashmir Reader. “Manu Parekh,” May 31, 2020. https://kashmirreader.com/2020/05/31/manu-parekh/.
Kalra, Vandana. “Manu Parekh on Referencing Works of Western Masters in his Recent Works and the Drama in his Art.” The Indian Express, November 11, 2019. https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/we-have-this-problem-of-originality-manu-parekh-6113394/.
Behrawala, Krutika. “Modernist Flashback: Tour 60 Years of Manu Parekh’s Art in a Mumbai Show.” Hindustan Times, March 09, 2018. https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/modernist-flashback-see-60-years-of-manu-parekh-s-artworks-in-a-mumbai-show/story-9UTUA06FfwEHcDzwrWHcvI.html
Kumar, Tanuj. “Manu Parekh: Going Beyond Banaras.” Live Mint, September 1, 2017. https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/mlKXKtiwuUIER1CGsPq99L/Manu-Parekh-going-beyond-Banaras.html
OT Staff. “Art Exhibition: Manu Parekh, 60 years of Selected works.” Outlook Traveller, March 13, 2018. https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/explore/story/65838/manu-parekh-ngma-mumbai
Sharma, Purnima. “Benares in his Blood.” Deccan Herald, July 05, 2020. https://www.deccanherald.com/sunday-herald/sunday-herald-art-culture/benares-in-his-blood-856466.html
Singh, Ayesha. “Colours of faith with Padma Shri Manu Parekh.” The New Indian Express, November 9, 2019. https://www.newindianexpress.com/lifestyle/travel/2019/nov/09/colours-of-faith-with-padma-shri-manu-parekh-2059223.html
Verma, Ketaki. “Pastiche as Postscript: The Recent Works of Manu Parekh” Critical Collective. Accessed June 14, 2021. https://criticalcollective.in/ArtistInner2.aspx?Aid=160&Eid=1302