Mr. Sabavala’s 62-year career started with his first solo exhibition at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, put up with the help of fellow artist M F Husain and some carpenters. His last exhibition was in 2008.Beginning his career in the mid 60s, Jehangir Sabavala has always tried to find his own individual style, from the trends being portrayed by his contemporaries. He is one of the first artists in India to organize traveling exhibits, taking his works to different cities.The work of Jehangir Sabavala is heavily influenced by his spiritual affiliation with nature.
His canvases capture the open and majestic changeability of a landscape, reflecting his own liberation of spirit, freed of repression through the process of his work. Sabavala’s visual depiction of nature are the visual equivalent of his emotions; an outlet for his sensationalist subject matter. In Sunflower, Field Vinchurni I, Sabavala creates a vista from a series of sketches made during a visit to a farm in rural Satara, set in the shadow of the Sahyadri Mountains. The yellow dots of flowers stand out amidst the painting’s gentle hue, indicative of the artist’s ability to merge both impressionist and semi-cubist style with subtle grace and charm.
Far from sentimental, Sabavala’s paintings depict the ambivalence of nature with its transcending beauty and sublime magnitude masking, in comparison, the terrifying inconsequence of humankind. His paintings of figures and faces often poignantly mirror the tragic destiny of man. In the subdued They Seek but do not Find (a negative connotation of the teachings of Christ) the viewer comes upon two boys, tired and downcast, sitting among rocks, drawing attention to the mottled gradation of tones that unifies stone, shadows, the leached desert soil, and the hint of vegetation.
Jehangir Sabavala prefers veiled light and middle tones to pure colours and loud imagery, creating geometric wedges out of paint, which he puts together to form vast tranquil scenes.
His art is a mixture of academic, impressionist and cubist texture that plays with form and colour to create a quiet rendering of the scene’s atmosphere. Having acquired a distinct style by the mid 60s, Sabavala has continued to carry reoccurring themes forward into new works yet also touching on unfamiliar territory, breaching new frontiers so that the spirit of adventure and discovery is not fossilized, but remains alive and vital.
Jehangir Sabavala was born in Mumbai in 1922. He studied in the best known art colleges of the world. After receiving his diploma from the J J School of Arts in 1944 he went to Europe and studied in the Heatherley School of art, London from 1945 to 1947, the Academic Andre Lhote from 1948 to 1951 Paris, the Academic Julianfrom 1953 to 1954 and the Academic de la Grande Chaumiere in 1957.
He has held a number of one man shows across India and abroad, and participated in prominent exhibitions all over the world. These include the ’Art Now in India’ Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, the exhibition of the Arts Council of Great Britain, the 7th Triennale, India, the Masters of India Art Show, Mumbai, the Southebys Islamic & Indian Art show, London and the Christies Indian Contemporary Paintings, London. He has participated at the Salon National Independent, Paris 1950, the Venice Biennial, 1954; the Commonwealth Arts Festival' London 1965; Contemporary Art ftom India, Washington 1975; Asian Artists Exhibition, Fukuoka Art Museum Tokyo, 1979 and Modem Indian Painting, Hischhorn Museum Washington 1982. Apart from several international auctions he has also participated in 'Chamatkar-Fantasy in Indian Art' presented by CIMA Gallery at Whiteleys' London 1966
Three monographs have been published on him already, by eminent art publishers including Tata- McGraw-Hill and the Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi. ‘Colours of Absence’ - a film on his life, won the national award in 1994.
Jehangir Sabavala has also been felicitated with many prestigious awards for his unique and sustained contribution to the field of contemporary Indian Art with a global perspective, one of these distinctions include the Padma Shri, presented bt the Govt. of India to him in 1977.
This grand son of Sir Cawasjee Jehangir is no more, it's a great loss to India and Art World, may his soul rest in peace.