Visual Spaces

Sheikh Kabir
Ark | Archival inkjet print on arches 300 gsm paper | 94" x 96" | 2008

Painter, poet, art historian and teacher Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, converses with the world, its heritage of the real and imaginary the famous and the fabulous to create an Indic art.
All paintings by Gulam Mohammed Sheikh

“The idea of quotation, the choice of quoting from everywhere, anywhere, including one’s own past work, overturns the real and the imaginary, back and forth. What were “real’ characters assume different form, become figures from fables, stories from autobiography, enlarging the imaginary world…Much of the painting of Kaavad is based on quotes…beside s looking at my own works in retrospect… I chose from Bizhad, and the Lorenzottis, Giotto and Duccio, Govardhan, Sahibdin, Nainsukh and many others…” (cited in Ananya Vajpeyi)

“Living in India means living simultaneously in several times and cultures, one often walks into medieval situations and primitive people. The past exists as a living entity alongside the present, each illuminating and sustaining the other as times and cultures converge, the citadels of purism explode. Traditional and modern, private and public, the inside and the outside are being continually splintered and reunited. The kaleidoscopic flux engages the eye and mobilizes the monad into action ….like the many eyed and armed archetype of an Indian child soiled with multiple visions; I draw my energy from the source.” (Sheikh 1981 in Ghose)

Image of Sheikh Kaaavad
Kaavad : Journeys | Wood painted with gouache casein, laminated with melamine and varnish, inkjet prints | H: 48 cm, W: 106 cm, D: 40 cm | 2004


Sheikh meander
Meanderings | Lithograph | 12.5″ x 19.5″ | 1998


Sheikh Speaking Tree
Speaking Tree from Kaavad Home | Archival inkjet print on arches 300 gsm paper | 93″ x 96″ | 2005


Sheikh Visitor
Visitor of the Sky | Archival inkjet print on arches 300 gsm paper | 94″ x 67″ | 2010


Painter, art historian, and writer Gulam Mohammed Sheikh (born 1937) taught art history and painting for nearly three decades at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda. He has edited a book on ‘Contemporary Art in Baroda’ that traces the evolution of Baroda as an important center of contemporary art and art education from the nineteenth century up to the last decade of the twentieth century.

–The literary sensibility of Gulam Mohammed Sheikh is as fine as his artistic sensibility, for he is also a distinguished Gujarati poet. Says he,

“There is a very meaningful relationship between writing and painting. Our painting tradition has been suffused with it. But now we have developed a purist’s mode where we have separated the two. This is like saying that when you see you should shut your ears, while you hear you should shut your eyes. You don’t. You can’t. Those who have studied perception will realize the correlation between the senses.”

The idea of a dialogue has been a very central one in his work and this idea imparts a dynamic quality to his works. The impressions, especially of the early years of life, the tales he heard and the myths he grew up with, found expression as images in poetry first, and later, in painting.

But where his paintings are concerned, Kabir (the legendary poet/saint) has always been his source of inspiration, right from his schooldays. Over the years the theme of Kabir kept returning to him and Gulam Mohammed Sheikh created a relationship between his own images and Kabir’s words. He has worked on the ‘Alphabet Series’ based on his relationship with Kabir.


Courtesy: Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi
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--Ananya Vajpeyi: The Righteous Republic. The Political Foundations of Modern India. Harvard University Press. 2012
--Koeli Mukherjee Ghose:


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