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PadmaShri Awards 2019: Architect Bimal Patel and Artist Jyoti Bhatt win honours!

Posted by
on January 28, 2019 at 10:49 AM

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TFOD awoke this Republic Day 2019 to some extra doses of celebratory sunshine. Two of the fraternities we exist for have received the highest form of national civilian recognition, the Padma Award. As architect/ urban designer/ urban planner Dr.Bimal Patel and painter/ printmaker/ photographic documenter, artist Prof. Jyoti Bhatt are conferred with the Padma Shri this year, TFOD joins the nation in celebrating the significant contributions made by their works. We present here but a cursory glimpse at two careers that have covered unusual depths and explored horizons beyond the ordinary boundaries of their respective fields.

Shri Bimal Patel

Born in 1961 as the son of a successful and prolific senior architect of the country, Shri Hasmukh Patel of Ahmedabad, Bimal Patel’s entry into the field could perhaps be described as only a natural inheritance, and one that was difficult to outshine in any measure given the predecessor’s distinguished contribution. But, it is the realms beyond this natural inheritance to which he steered his and his firm’s career, exploring and contributing developmental alternatives for national betterment, which put him in the domain of extraordinary distinction. Graduating in architecture from CEPT Ahmedabad and pursuing a master’s degree from UC Berkeley along with his dissertations and internships under distinguished people in the field internationally armed Bimal with extensive exposure and in-depth knowledge of architecture, urban design and urban planning which encompassed various disciplines like geography, economics, sociology and history. Then joining his father’s architectural practice at Ahmedabad even as he still pursued his Ph.D., he expanded it into a multi-disciplinary firm under the name of Hasmukh C. Patel Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd. which has delivered exquisite architectural designs and path-breaking urban design, research and planning projects.

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Among his iconic building designs, one can count the Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Ahmedabad, his first design and winner of the prestigious Aga Khan Award, the new campus for IIM Ahmedabad, and innumerable other institutes, offices, industries and residences. His notable contributions to urban planning and design under HCPDPM include the Kankaria Lake Development, a first of its kind in the country. He founded the Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC) which undertook extensive research and planning projects, among which the much celebrated Sabarmati River Front Development project that was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Urban Design and Planning. The EPC has rendered immeasurable national contributions through projects like the Development Plan for Ahmedabad (2002), development and planning scheme for the reconstruction of Bhuj, Kachchh after the earthquake of 2001 and reformulating the Planning Legislation for Delhi. In1998. The UNCHS ranked EPC as one of the Global 100 Best Practices in recognition of its plan for the revitalisation of Surat’s inner city. 

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As the forever smiling, young and energetic Bimal Patel continues his distinguished professional journey, he also leads the administration at his alma mater, CEPT University, as its President and engages with students and academia in various capacities internationally. Prolific, trans-disciplinary and exhaustive as his work’s nature has been, Bimal Patel is no stranger to worldwide recognition. Yet, being bestowed the nation’s highest honour calls for special celebrations in the fraternity. 

Shri Jyoti Bhatt

The soft-spoken, unassuming and endearing personality of octogenarian Jyoti Bhatt has always been a quintessential element of Baroda’s art scene, leading the progress of the Baroda School of Fine Arts to occupy a distinguished position in the country. Shri Jyotindra Bhatt, or simply Jyotibhai as he’s fondly called, is said to have been initiated into artistic ideas during his childhood itself when he went to an unorthodox school that was influenced by Tagore’s and Gandhi’s ideas. Thereafter, he formally trained in painting under K.G.Subrahmanyam and N.S. Bendre, graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the M.S. University of Vadodara, and studied fresco and mural painting at Banasthali Vidyapeeth, Rajasthan. He then went on to study at the Academia di Belle Arti in Naples, Italy, as well the Pratt Institute in New York, imbibing knowledge of the Intaglio process. Returning to Baroda in 1966, he joined the Faculty of Fine Arts at MSU to teach painting and infused the enthusiasm for intaglio in his fellow artists like Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh and Bhupen Khakkar. 

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Traversing different forms and styles of art, he made printmaking his speciality. Taking up photo documentation of Gujarati folk art for a seminar saw him get deeply involved in the subject beyond the momentary project. Identifying with documentary photography as an art in itself, Jyotibhai lent it his own style of a casual yet deeply involved, empathetic yet non-intrusive narrator who captured his subjects so naturally and yet resulting in highly eloquent images. In his documentation of the transformation of folk and culture, he makes use absolutely unlikely subjects like the government’s voter identity ‘smart card’ with all its inaccuracies of spelling and information, infecting viewers with his humorous point of view. His photo documentation of artists, students, faculty and their activities at MSU’s Fine Arts school over more than five decades is regarded as one of the most comprehensive documentation of the school’s work. In fact, he is identified inseparably, indeed as a leading figure, with the group of artists whose work has been known as the ‘Baroda School” of Indian art.

© Courtesy of internet resources
© Courtesy of internet resources

Shri Jyoti Bhatt’s work enjoys the patronage of art enthusiasts, critics and galleries around the world. His paintings, which explore some unusual uses of traditional motifs and bright colours from his folk art photographs are projected in a modernist pop-art kind of a denouement. His screen prints, etchings, intaglios and photographs can be found displayed at numerous international collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., and The British Museum, London. Together with his wife, sculptor and ceramic artist Jyotsna Bhatt, they make up one of the most influential artist couples of the country. His work has been conferred with a lengthy list of national and international recognition and awards. He seems to have well utilised these as an emphatic encouragement to carry on with a characteristic simplicity that manages to brush away all other distractions to underscore only what matters - his art. It is, indeed, a cause for celebration when the nation recognises such commitment and awards it with its highest honour.

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TFOD - The Future Of Design takes pride in congratulating these stalwarts from the fields of art and architecture, whose commitment has contributed to the achievements of our country.

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