Sudhir Patwardhan (b. 1949)
A painter known for his renditions of cityscapes and the figure of a working man, Sudhir Patwardhan was born in Pune where he also graduated from the Armed Forces Medical College in 1972 after receiving his training as a radiologist. A self-taught artist, Patwardhan began painting in the mid-1970s and his art practice functioned parallel to his career as a radiologist from 1975–2005, during which he was based in Thane, near Mumbai.
Working in the medium of drawing and painting in the realist mode, Patwardhan’s oeuvre includes expressive portrayals of urban and natural environments, civic strife and the toiling human body. His canvases are populated by markers of Mumbai’s city life, from crowded buses to snack stalls to the bylanes of old neighbourhoods. His work registers the transition of Mumbai’s sprawl and chaos and also presents political conflict in sharp detail. Influenced by Marxism and the workers’ movement in the 1980s, Patwardhan’s is attentive to the figure of the working class and allegorises it in his paintings. Street Play (1981) is a panel that stitches together different parts of the city, depicting its turbulence through scenes from a street theatre performance and tired textile workers, held together by the gaze of an observer, a surrogate for both the artist and the viewer. In another landmark painting, Accident on May Day (1981), he paints an elegiac portrait of an accident victim being pulled on a stretcher out of a train, amidst a crowded railway station milling with apathetic commuters and bleak figures holding the red flag. In his recent exhibitions such as Family Fiction (2011) and Sceptres (2017), he has delved into personal and social introspection through a vast body of portraits, including his own.
Between 2008-09, Patwardhan curated Vistarni Kshitije/Expanding Horizons, an exhibition of Indian contemporary art that travelled through Maharashtra. In 2011, he curated drawings by ten artists which were displayed at The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai and Sudarshan Art Gallery, Pune. His first exhibition was in 1979 with Art Heritage Gallery in New Delhi, and was then brought to Mumbai at the Jehangir Art Gallery. Following this, his work has been exhibited at over fifteen solo exhibitions and several group exhibitions at institutions such as Chemould Prescott Road (Mumbai, India), Vadehra Art Gallery (New Delhi, India), Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, USA), Asia Society (New York, USA) and Tate Modern (London, UK).
Patwardhan’s paintings are part of many collections including the National Museum of Modern Art (NGMA, New Delhi, India), Lalit Kala Akademi (New Delhi, India), Bharat Bhavan (Bhopal, India) and the Herwitz Family Collection (USA). His life and work have been the subject of two monographs by the critic and theorist, Ranjit Hoskote, The Complicit Observer (2004) and The Crafting of Reality – Sudhir Patwardhan’s Drawings (2007).
At the time of writing, Patwardhan lives and works in Thane, Mumbai.
“Route Maps: Sudhir Patwardhan.” The Guild. Accessed, June 30, 2021. http://www.guildindia.com/RouteMaps-SudhirPatwardhan.htm
“Sudhir Patwardhan.” Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation. Accessed, June 30, 2021. https://jnaf.org/artist/sudhir-patwardhan-1949/
“Sudhir Patwardhan.” Vadehra Art Gallery. Accessed, June 30, 2021. https://www.vadehraart.com/sudhir-patwardhan-bio