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Mangal Singh Gohil



 Education  1930's Rajkumar College, Rajkot 1930's Prince of Wales Royal Military College, Dehradun. 1935 Art training under Ravishankar Raval and Sculptor V.P.Karmarkar. 1937-39 Art training under Sir William Rothenstein and Sir Frank Brangwyn, London  Honours and Awards 1977 Gujarat State Annual Exhibition Award.   In princely India, Lathi was a small, politically insignificant state, west of Bhavnagar in the state of Gujarat. But culturally, Lathi's contribution to the state was rich and diverse. Gujarat's most well-known poets, Sursingh Takhatsingh Gohil, more popularly known by his pen-name 'Kalapi', ruled the state in the late 19th century until his tragic death at the age of 26. Mangalsinhji Gohil of Lathi, the grandson of 'Kalapi' - was a painter, muralist, and one of the country's first trained painting restorers. In the 1950s and 60s, Mangalsinhji's paintings were very well appreciated all over Europe, which he had extensively toured just before the Second World War started, having also worked at the studios of artists in England and France. Though not a formally trained artist, Mangalsinhji learnt his art watching numerous artists at work, talking with them about principles of aesthetics, and then experimenting and innovating in his own work. If one looks at a retrospective of his works, done from 1930 to 1975, one finds a variety of styles, compositional formats and selection of themes that reflect the numerous influences which are seen in his works. In 1920, he first entered the portals of the Rajkumar College, Rajkot, where his love for drawing received encouragement, as well as inspiration. Instead of returning home for the holidays, he would be taken by his guardian to Kodaikanal, and this is where he made his first complete painting 'Perumal Hill'. A few years later, in keeping with royal tradition, he was sent to the Military School at Dehradun, in preparation for a career in the Armed Forces. But he could not take the strain and physical demands of military training, and he was wisely sent back to the Rajkumar College. However, at Dehradun he met the two drawing masters at the School, Shri Labhsingh and Mr. Wood, from whom he studied the principles of drawing and illustration. At Rajkot, painter Shambhuprasad Buch introduced him to the depiction of light and shadow. In 1932, the nearby state of Gondal played host to noted sculptor, Vinayakrao Karmarkar, and the young Mangalsinhji reached there immediately. Karmarkar explained to him the principles of perspective and how multi-dimensional effects can be created. Soon, however Mangalsinhji was introduced to Somalal Shah, already a known painter, whose dreamy, textural quality in his paintings was being much lauded. From Somalalbhai, he learnt the wash technique as well as the competent use of water colours. When his elder brother, Thakore Prahladsinhji, sensed the seriousness with which Mangalsinhji was pursuing his interest in art, he got him to join Ravishankar Raval's art institute, Gujarat Kala Sangh, in 1935. Here he met practicing artists like Rasiklal Parikh, Kanubhai Desai, Chaganbhai Jadav. For the first time, Mangalsinhji received formal training on the principles and techniques of colors. The stint at the Kala Sangh expanded his vision, exposed him to works of other artists and allowed him to examine them critically. Back home, he made his first mural on the wall of the Lathi Palace, 'Govalani', depicting the milkmaids of tribal Saurashtra. In 1938, came the opportunity to visit England and Europe. Mangalsinhji, now at his creative best, absorbed the works of the Masters of European and Classical Art, that he saw in the renowned art galleries, visited the studios of Prof. Radhenstein and muralist Sir Frank Bengwin, and also worked there for a while. Sir Bengwin, then one of the leading restorers of old and dilapidated art works, taught Mangalsinhji the techniques of restoration and conservation of oils. In fact, Mangalsinhji so excelled at this craft that, for many years after his return to India, he single-handedly restored numerous invaluable oils, a number of them being Ravi Varmas, in the royal palaces of Jamnagar, Jaipur, Dhangadhra and Bhavnagar. In Europe, he was greatly influenced by the realistic and naturalistic styles of painting, and his interest in the various on-going art movements also lead him to experiment with Cubism and other styles prevalent then, in these countries. However, he managed to master the technique of creating two-dimensional effects on flat canvas or paper surfaces, a feature that stands out in all his significant works. He was considerably helped in this venture by the talented Vajubhai Bhagat, who himself excelled at this technique. His return to Lathi saw an extraordinary spurt in creativity and output. His mural, 'Yaksha' on wall of the Pratap Vilas Palace, Lathi, was one of his major works, executed immediately on his return. Years of fervent and continuous practice saw him develop a strong drawing hand, a judicious use of color, balanced compositions, and an equal felicity while dealing with a narrative/figurative theme or a luminous landscape. In 1945, he organised his first solo exhibition, which drew an appreciative response from art lovers and art critics. He exhibited in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi as well as in Brussels. Mangalsinhji's work embraces the traditional and the modern, both in style and theme. His works are presented upfront, often have obviously Pantheo-religious overtones, and are soothing to look at. His large murals can be seen at the Shree Gulabkunwarba Dhanvantri Ayurved Mahavidyalaya (96 x 5 feet), Jamnagar, at the Virbai Mahila College, Rajkot, and at Shree Yashwantrai Natyagruh, Bhavnagar. His works also grace the National Gallery collections, New Delhi. Some of his significant paintings are, Ram Chitrayan, Yugavtar Bapu, Madhav, Prakriti-Purush (his last work), Rabari, Abhisarika, Radha-Raman, Suvarna-Mrug, Pathik, Mount Abu, Shram-Yagna, Buddha Jiwan and so on. Most of these works continue to be with the Lathi royal family, though there is now a resurgence of interest in his works amongst serious art collectors.

Mangal Singh Gohil

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Artist Statement

In princely India, Lathi was a small, politically insignificant state, west of Bhavnagar in the state of Gujarat. But culturally, Lathi's contribution to the state was rich and diverse. Gujarat's most well-known poets, Sursingh Takhatsingh Gohil, more popularly known by his pen-name 'Kalapi', ruled the state in the late 19th century until his tragic death at the age of 26. Mangalsinhji Gohil of Lathi, the grandson of 'Kalapi' - was a painter, muralist, and one of the country's first trained pain
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Artist Biography

 Education  1930's Rajkumar College, Rajkot 1930's Prince of Wales Royal Military College, Dehradun. 1935 Art training under Ravishankar Raval and Sculptor V.P.Karmarkar. 1937-39 Art training under Sir William Rothenstein and Sir Frank Brangwyn, London  Honours and Awards 1977 Gujarat State Annual Exhibition Award.  
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