Renowned artist Satish Gujral passes away at 94

As a celebrated architect, Gujral designed the Belgian embassy in Delhi and the Goa University. (Express Archives)

Internationally renowned painter and architect Satish Gujral breathed his last Thursday at the age of 94.

The artist, former Prime Minister Indra Kumar Gujral's brother, had been conferred with India's second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, in the year 1999 for his contributions to art.

As a celebrated architect, Gujral designed the Belgian embassy in Delhi and Goa University.

In an interview to The Indian Express, Gujral had talked about his decision to venture into architecture: "Many people thought I was foolish to drop a successful career in painting and go for architecture. Diplomats from Belgium had come to India and wanted me to design their embassy in a way that it represented Indian tradition but was also modern. I designed it in 1984. After that, I designed various other buildings, including the summer palace in Riyadh and the UNESCO building in Delhi," he had said.

Gujral first picked up colours as a nine-year-old boy, after an accident near Pahalgam in Kashmir rendered him deaf. Art was the language through which he told his stories — of the traumatic Partition, eternal relationship between man, animal and technology, and abstractionist mythological themes interspersed with the use of the Devanagari script.

Born in Jhelum, Pakistan, in 1925, Gujral had also told The Indian Express that his earliest lessons in art came not from the medium itself but through the words penned by poets such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ghalib and Iqbal. As a young boy, he accompanied his elder brother Inder, then a student of Lahore College, to gatherings and poetry reading sessions. “He asked Ali Sardar Jafri (Urdu writer and poet) to advice me on poetry, listening to the very first verse penned by me he advised me not to write poems and I followed his advice,” says Gujral.