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Artist Profile1
Sunil Gawde’s contemplative creations
Known to be a constant innovator, Sunil Gawde has gradually moved from his earlier minimalist, two dimensional works to more ambitious, large-scale sculptures and dynamic installations.

The artist proficiently fuses his immense artistic sensibility and creativity with fine design and craft skills. His tools often include sophisticated paint materials and implements like trowels and scrapers for achieving a layered depth in his pigments. This results in textured surfaces - dynamic and dramatic in nature.

Born 1960 in Mumbai, Sunil Gawde completed his graduation from the Sir J. J. School of Art. Though he had always wished to be an artist, it was never a smooth sailing for him. Utterly dejected at one point of time, as a tale goes, the artist launched on a holy journey to the shrine of Lord Vithoba at Pandharpur, spending two months with the ardent devotees; a journey, which was ‘truly a revelation’ for him as he retreated into his own self to reemerge stronger.

Though trained and well capable as an artist, he took up a job at the Bombay Port Trust (BPT) to earn a living. For well over a decade he carried on with his shift job, even while continuing to paint. His keen observation of the surroundings and the people he worked with added a new dimension to his work. The traces of the peculiar surroundings appeared in his creations as the peeling layers of paint along with images of a ship's helm, which appear to reveal its histories. Reliving his early experiences, he had stated, “The job was just bread and butter for me. Art was always my life.”

His perseverance finally paid off. An opportunity to study at Glasgow School of Art, Scotland proved to be a defining moment of his career. The Charles Wallace scholarship gave a renewed impetus to his creativity, and infused a spirit of contemplation into his work.

Sunil Gawde's European debut was launched with an exhibition in London. The shows at ARKS Gallery and at the Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow brought him into spotlight internationally. Since then his work has been showcased in numerous prestigious art exhibitions in India, France, Dubai, China and Japan.

About his work, he has mentioned: "I build up a rhythm; it's a physical thing. Intellect and planning only go so far. When I paint, something is hammering in here. I like to go to extremes: to the edge. I know there are no short cuts. Each picture has to have its own sincerity."

Sunil Gawde’s creations are contemplative in nature. His work, often metaphysical and metaphorical, takes shape as he mutates complex philosophy with ubiquitous objects from day-to-day life to which he gives a new interpretation. He radically increases their scale so their function or utility turns immaterial and the viewer is presented with a radically new perspective.

`Blind Bulb etc.', showcased at Mumbai's Sakshi Gallery in 2005, marked a departure from his trademark abstract paintings. The bulb seemingly represents the human body; it has an interior and an exterior - both brimming with intense possibilities of illumination. The enlarged bulb, though it connotes light, doesn’t illuminate from within; it’s not connected to its source. Its interiority gets externalized, on the contrary, through a black substance emitted, that attains the shape of a bat. This nocturnal creature doesn’t need eyes, and ‘sees’ through noise reflection. So the bulb could well be a ‘blind bulb’.

The light bulb is often a symbol of enlightenment or knowledge. Yet by making it dense black, this interpretation was inverted. The ‘blind bulbs’ were initially commissioned for Saint-Tropez beach. Being placed outdoors in such a context made the irony of the piece evident, as the function of a bulb is completely unnecessary as the light it emits can in no way compete with the sunlight.

A painter, sculptor, and installation artist, all rolled in one, outlining his artistic philosophy, Sunil Gawde has aptly stated: “My goal has always been not to lose my originality, always staying true to my inner voice and refusing to follow the short cuts.”