Sudhir Patwardhan considers himself a painter of people. Born in Pune, Maharashtra in 1949, he graduated in Medicine from the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune in 1972. Patwardhan, a practicing radiologist, runs a clinic in a modest part of Thane in Mumbai.
He held his first solo exhibition of paintings in Delhi at the famous theatre personality E.Alkazi`s art gallery Art Heritage in 1979. This exhibition was then held in Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. Since then he has held more than 15 solo exhibitions in all major galleries, including Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (1979,1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2002), Art Heritage, Delhi (1990), 1994 – Gallery Chemould (1994), Mumbai, Vadehra Art Gallery, Delhi (1999), Sakshi Gallery, Banglore and Mumbai (2001, 2002).
Sudhir Patwardhan`s works centres around one poetically monumental panorama of an urban and natural environment. The recent exhibition (2002) of his works at the Sakshi Gallery centred around one poetically monumental panorama of an urban and natural environment. The mostly charcoal drawings on paper were like instant notations from what happens among working-class people on city streets, otherwise more or less sketchy studies done from photographs.
Pathwardhan has continued to evolve his figurative style in expressionist drawings on one hand and large complex oil paintings of town and cityscapes on the other. His work has been selected for major exhibitions of contemporary Indian art in London, New York, Paris and Geneva, among other cities.
“The feeling of being an intruder now catches up with me, and pulls me away from the image. I am probably fated to oscillate thus between proximity and distance. There are periods when I am neither here nor there. It is in this in-between space that figures closest to my heart take shape. Figures neither near nor far like the distance between me and the stranger in the street or in the cafe. In such figures, close enough to be sensuously full-bodied and disquieting, but distanced through the act of observation and depiction, are compounded the pleasures and problems of both extremes. The character and social background of these figures are established and they take on a sociological role but it could as well be an autobiographical one.”
During the period 1986 to 1989 Sudhir Pathwardhan painted landscapes on the spot in Thane`s Pokharan area. He also held five exhibitions of these works in the area, in schools, a factory shed and even by the roadside. The aim was to share his experience with the people living and working in Pokharan. From these small works grew a large painting `Pokharan` painted in 1992.
Certain images seem to grope for a brief and nearly flat but vital silhouette, whereas in some others the painter delights in bringing out palpable, sensuous volumes of bodies, clothes and hair materialising through the light and shadow sliding over their surface. The figures are self-contained, and Patwardhan respects their individuality and inaccessibility.