"The artist attempts to reproduce the outer and/or the inner meaning of the appearance of things, using individually conceived forms that are the products of his experience, feeling or imagination to express his aesthetic ideas and emotions in terms of the particular medium employed through line tones, space, colours, theme and craft to create a new and vial organism or entity of form."
As you enter the lobby of ITC Maurya you will find a plethora of art surrounding you. Amid this symphony of creative expression, two striking pieces of art by Satish Gujral placed back to back on one of the walls stand out markedly, commanding your attention at once.
From a distance they look like two paintings, but when you view them from close quarters you realise they are two burnt wood sculptures entitled 'Entwined Forever' and 'The Union of Two Minds'.
You don't just see them – you experience these two utterly captivating sculptures. They have been fashioned with the use of a blow torch and a range of materials and interestingly used elements. Specially treated cork and cut out leather form the background with some leather that has been painted red while leather ropes have been used to tie up pieces of wood. On close observation one can see some beautiful blue ceramic stone beads have been also incorporated in the sculpture. In fact, one critic has described these sculptures as "a kind of visceral exposure of forms, human and otherwise".
Experimenting with spaces and colours, these two sculptures have a very different sensibility given their three dimensional character which lends them a curious kind of vitality and energy – a wonderful rugged earthiness, if you will.
Satish Gujral is an artist completely possessed by his imagery, driven to reinvent himself all the time.
Ceramic, industrial metal, burnt wood, bronze, canvas, have all been the raw materials for his creative genius. An emotion never repeats itself, says Gujral. Therefore he has never been a slave to his own style, always having the courage to invent and change. He is the creator of some of the most amazingly distinctive graphics, murals, paintings and sculptures, as much as he is an architect and interior designer par excellence.
He is uncomfortable about limiting himself to a particular form of expression. In his words, "If an artist keeps on seeing trees all the time, never the river, never the desert, he is stationary. And they are stationary, because they want to sell."
A painter, sculptor, muralist, architect and writer, he is always in search of a new theme. However the most searing influence that is evident in his work has stemmed from his early experiences of deafness and being witness to the horrors of Partition. The angst and anger leap out in the series of paintings he did around the theme of Partition.
A chance meeting with Octavio Paz, the famous Mexican poet and writer resulted in his selection for a scholarship to study art in Mexico that changed his life. He also recalls his meeting with the well known surrealist artist Frida Kahlo, with fondness, while he was there.
The Mexican government conferred Gujral with 'The Order of the Aztec Eagle' an honour given to foreigners rendering distinguish services to Mexico and humanity. The award was given to Gujral in recognition of his outstanding contribution to art and the cultural relations between India and Mexico.
The Belgian government honoured Gujral with the ORDER OF THE CROWN for designing the Belgian Embassy in New Delhi in 1983. The only non-Belgian architect ever to win this distinction.
For more on Satish Gujral, his inspiration and his work, you could read his autobiography, 'A brush with life'.