Jehangir Vazifdar was born in Bombay in 1920, into an era where cubism and other defining forces of modernism were shattering the very boundaries of art.
He was by training an architect. Indeed, he remained a practicing architect and builder of great reputation, founding his own architects’ firm in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. He then set up the Vazifdar College of Building Industries, a pioneering effort in the field of construction-related education.
Initially he also taught at his alma mater, the JJ College of Architecture, Bombay. It was just the first step in an illustrious career, during which he designed and constructed some of Bombay’s most iconic structures.
These included Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Tata Memorial Hospital, Breach Candy Apartments and the placing of Cuffe Parade on the city’s map – with its earliest developments, Cuffe Castle and Palm Springs.
From abstract oils to classic mid-century cubism. From powerful portraiture to intimate felt-pen drawings, Jehangir Vazifdar’s work ran a gamut unique to the man. He invented styles and stylizations, theories of colour and graceful geometries of form, across a variety of mediums.
Jehangir Vazifdar was a relentless experimenter, stretching his craft beyond the traditional boundaries of oil and canvas. Overlap Art was a series of smaller works in fluent felt-pen strokes on printed magazine covers.
Fake-Proof Art was another example of his imaginative approach. Paint was applied in thick layers, then carved through with a foot rule, creating a textured effect that was impossible to replicate.
Jehangir Vazifdar was a visionary as much as an artist. Among his crowning intellectual achievements was a unique Dictionary of Colour for future generations of artists, quantifying colours, grading them, and interpreting their meaning.
Amongst collectors of Jehangir Vazifdar’s ouvre, special mention must be made of Abby Grey. An avid lover of Indian art and artists, she visited India frequently in the early sixties. Within a short time, her collection included luminaries such as Ram Kumar, FN Souza, MF Husain, Krishen Khanna and Anjolie Ela Menon.
She met Jehangir Vazifdar in 1965, and described him as ‘by far the most astonishing artist ‘ she had met on that trip. Despite his reluctance, she was able to acquire a single piece of work from him.
Decades later, in 2015, the canvas was part of a major retrospective,’ Abby Grey and Indian modernism’, serving as a vivid motif of a legendary era in Indian Art.
Given below is a chronology of shows, solo and group, featuring Jehangir Vazifdar’s work.
A Permanent exhibition of his works may be found at an intimate gallery located at Corinthian, Colaba.
Taj Art Gallery, Taj Mahal Hotel – June, 1966
Taj Art Gallery, Taj Mahal Hotel – March, 1981
Taj Art Gallery, Taj Mahal Hotel – February, 1987
Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda – November, 2004
Leela Kempinski, Near Airport
Studio Windsor, Colaba – March, 2002
Abby Grey, New York – 2005
Vazifdar was part of a resplendent period in modern Indian Art.
The late 60s and 70s were a time when the Indian sensibility found fresh voice, when groups such as the Progressives flourished. It was also a time when new styles, techniques and visions came into the arc-light. Jehangir Vazifdar’s work always reflected current ideas, yet remained unique and original.
Amongst the artists he showed with are Bhuppen khakkar, Vivasavan, Prabhakar Barwe & SB Palsiker, all legends of the art world.
“When artists’s create they just create. It is for others to interpret” - Jehangir Vazifdar
“Astonishing”. “Better than Mondrian”, “Lively”, “Original”....Vazifdar’s ouvre attracted more than its fair share of fine adjectives. Below are some facsimiles of reviews from a range of publications.
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