TYEB MEHTA (1925-2009)

Untitled (Head)

TYEB MEHTA (1925-2009)
Untitled (Head)
signed and dated 'Tyeb 62' (lower right)
oil on board
24 1/8 x 20 in. (61.3 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted in 1962
Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the mid-1960s
Mumbai, Gallery Chemould, Tyeb Mehta, Exhibition of Paintings, January-February 1965

Lot Essay

Through his artistic career, Tyeb Mehta restricted his pictorial language to a small repertoire of figurative images - constantly refining them with varying degrees of intensity. While his formal techniques and the stylistic elements of his paintings have evolved over the years, his focus on the solitary figure, placed squarely in the center of the canvas, has remained. Relying upon animated, thick impasto application of paint in place of the carefully delineated outlines and flat planes of colour of his later work, Mehta's early paintings are dynamic and charged. This technique is indicative of what the creative process signifies for him; the figure is not part of a narrative but represents the emotional content of the painting.

This image, one of the early examples of Mehta's figuration, was painted in 1962 during the artist's years in London. It was during this period that Mehta came into contact with the School of Paris and immersed himself in European Modernism, incorporating its principles into his own work.

This painting retains Mehta's typically gestural treatment of form, maintaining the textural roughness of his earlier work. Mehta's abstracted head appears monumental, rendered substantial and sculptural against the monochromatic background.

George Butcher comments on Mehta's early work, noting that the artist "re-creates from the 'inside-out' in the sense that pictures like 'Brown Torso' are the main composite result of a struggle to make the brush and the palette knife as eloquent at each moment along the way, as the growth of an embryo in the womb." (G. Butcher, 'Two Indian Painters,' The Guardian, Tuesday 24 June 1962)

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