An artist, educationist, art historian, and poet, Gulammohammed Sheikh's multidisciplinary sensibilities allow him to straddle the world of art and literature with ease. Lush and richly narrative, Sheikh's paintings capture his impressions of life, interwoven with Indian myths and the folklore of his native Saurashtra. After studying painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University, Baroda and at the Royal College of Art, London he returned to Baroda in 1960, to teach for many decades and currently lives and works in his adopted city.
Resisting monolithic constructs of identity, Sheikh's work liberally quotes from both indigenous and world art traditions, placing derived images in new contexts. Moving back and forth in time and space, he draws the viewer into reflections on the historical and the contemporary, the physical and the transcendental, the autobiographical and the civilizational. At his large studio at Trishna estate, an industrial area in Vadodra, Gulammohammed Sheikh worked on the 72 feet long artwork for the MIAL project. "With all the travellers transiting through the airport, it seemed like an ideal site to quote journeys", says Sheikh.
"Eclecticism is part of India's very fabric. India is a country that lives in multiple times. Even today, the bronze casting in Tamil Nadu evokes the Sangam period; pottery in Gujarat brings to mind the sherds discovered in Mohenjodaro and Harappa; Lucknow's architecture is imprinted with the mark of the British. The past and the present aren't seen as binaries ... we have also imbibed the influences of other cultures, whether borne into the subcontinent aboard trade ships and caravans or armies. It seemed only natural ... to draw on the multiple visual elements available to me to create an externalisation of the imagined worlds that reside within me."