The Mumbai-based artist, Mehlli Gobhai has died at the age of 87 in a city hospital this morning. The artist was said to be ailing for a while and had been hospitalised for a month.
Poet, curator and cultural critic Ranjit Hoskote’s tweet — an endearing image of artists Jehangir Sabavala and Mr. Gobhai along with him – recalled a friendship of three decades and “many years of conversation, travel and meetings”.
Mr. Hoskote said to The Hindu, “He was one of the last great original characters [in the art world]. Absolutely eccentric and with a marvellous experience that crossed three continents in the most interesting decades in the 20th century. He landed in New York city in the most interesting decades and was really a witness to all the incredible moments in art history. He was easily our finest abstractionist. He really crafted his own amazing abstractionism idiom and that was literally special. Had he played his cards better in terms internationally he would have been in a different league. He’s in the same league of [Mark] Rothko and [Barnett] Newman.”
Auction house, Saffron Art’s website describes Mr Gobhai as, “a classical abstractionist with traditional artistic leanings”. Born in 1931, Mr. Gobhai graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He later studied at the Royal College of Art, London and then Pratt Graphic Centre and the Art Students League, New York. He lived and worked in New York for over 20 years, returning to the city of his birth in the late 1980s.
Mr. Hoskote said that, “Nancy [Adajania] and I are currently working with memories of his work for a retrospective of his work, slated to go on display in March 2019. This will be a tribute to the great purity of [Mehlli’s] abstraction. He was such a kaleidoscopic character.”