Amit Ambalal

Amit Ambalal, born in Ahmedabad in 1943, is a self- taught painter. He has had no formal training in an art school, but has had the guidance of the veteran artist and teacher Chhaganlal Jadhav. Qualified in Arts, Commerce and Law, he has been a businessman prior to taking up painting full-time since 1979. He says , "My inspiration was my mother who learned art from Chhaganlal Jadav, the renowned painter of Gujarat. I remember spending my time working on paintings even in my school. In fact my aptitude for art was so appreciated that even when I drew during my math class, my math teacher appreciated the good work and told my parents of the work of art I had created." Ambalal was educated at a school founded and run by Leela Sarabhai.

Mingling reality and mythology, with affectionate and irreverent humor, puns, caricature and satire, Ambalal’s paintings are populated by a multiplicity of characters; life-like gods and god-like men, gurus, yogis, paan eaters and close friends, as well as cows, crows and crocodiles. His keen wit and insight, often drawing from abundant sources of Indian traditional art, miniature painting, folk and tribal art, posters, as well as cosmological and astrological diagrams, enlightens and animates the rich surfaces of his oil and gouache paintings. His work can basically be divided into two categories. One has a contemporary approach to tradition via the popular religious traditions. And the other is the historical Rajasthani Nathdwara devotional paintings he has been creating for the last 14 years now. Part of his work also revolves around human drama. 

Ambalal's paintings give evidence of an important tendency in contemporary Indian art - that of a contemporary approach to tradition via the 'degenerate' forms of the popular religious traditions. His painting in this sense makes an interesting interface with his passion for the art history of devotional pictures from Nathdwara. While on the one hand there is the historian's aesthetic interest, there is equally the critical comment of the irreverent humorist m his work. His work has a directness of appeal which gives it a hard-hitting quality, a no-nonsense double-take on a nonsensical universe populated by the beautifully contorted and attenuated bodies of his idiosyncratic protagonists, human and otherwise. His practice of figuration seems to enjoy a rare freedom perhaps not available to those with the weight of academic training in their shoulders.

A large part of Amit's work is in watercolors and this he explains by his fondness for the medium, says he, "Watercolors have a knack of telling you when the painting is complete, apart from its luminosity and transparency which is not seen in other mediums." Amit is known to work with pure colors and let them mingle on the paper rather than his color palette. 

Ambalal held the first solo exhibition of his work at the Hutlheesing Visual Arts Centre, Ahmedabad in 1980, and has had, fourteen, solo shows in Ahmedabad Baroda, Bombay, Calcutta and New Delhi since then. His work has also been represented in several group exhibitions in India and abroad, including the Sixth Triemale - India, 1986, and the Bharat Bhavan Biennale, 1990. His work has also been shown in Amsterdam, Harvard and Perth.

Amit Ambalal Lives and works in Ahmedabad


Graduate in Arts, Commerce and Law
He had his art education under Shri. Chhaganlal Jadav

Selected solo shows

2010 'Sermons in Ceramics', Amdavad Ni Gufa, Ahmedabad
2008 Presented by Gallery Espace, New Delhi at Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
2008 Gallery Espace, New Delhi
2006 ‘Black Spring of the Blue God’, Organized by Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai and Gallery Maya, London
2005 ‘Leela, The Lightness of Being’, Bodhi Art, New Delhi and Singapore
2004 Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
2003 ‘The Civitella Experience’, Hutheesing Visual Arts Centre, Ahmedabad.
2002,03 Archer Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
2001 Galerie F.I.A., Amsterdam
2000 Gallery Espace, New Delhi
2000 Archer Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
1998 Galerie F.I.A., Amsterdam
1998 Archer, Herwitz Gallery, Ahmedabad
1997 Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
1996 Herwitz Gallery, Husain Doshi Gufa, Ahmedabad
1994 Gallery Espace, New Delhi
1993 Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
1993 Hutheesing Visual Arts Centre, Ahmedabad
1992 Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
1992 Gallery Escape, New Delhi
1990 Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
1986 Sanskar Kendra Gallery, Ahmedabad
1986,90,93,97 Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
1984,92 Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
1983 Sangat, Ahmedabad
1983 Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
1980 Urja Art Gallery, Baroda
1980 Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata
1980,93 Hutheesing Visual Arts Center, Ahmedabad

Selected group shows

2011 'Masters Ltd: Limited Editions', Gallery Beyond, Mumbai
2011 'Of Humour, Wit & Satire', Gallery Threshold, New Delhi
2009 'Think Small', Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi
2008 'Mapping Memories – 2, Painted Travelogues of Bali and Burma, Gallery Threshold, New Delhi
2008 'Mapping Memories – 1, Painted Travelogues of China and Greece', Gallery Threshold, New Delhi
2006 'Drawing Show an Act of Art II', Priyasri Art Gallery, Mumbai
2006 ‘Making of Divinity’, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
2006 ‘Back to the Future’, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
2005 ‘Palette 2005’, Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi
2005 ‘Divine Inspiration’, India Fine Art, Mumbai
2005 ‘Papyrus Works on Paper’, Sarjan Art Gallery, Baroda
2005 ‘Group Show 2005’, Lanxess ABS Gallery, Baroda
2005 ‘In Short’, Hacienda Gallery, Mumbai
2005 ‘Bhupen Among Friends’, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
2005 ‘Angkor-The Silent Centuries’, Bodhi Art, Singapore, New Delhi
2005 ‘Ritu – A Gathering of Seasons’, Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi
2004 ‘Art for Shaily’, The Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
2004 ‘Jiva / Life’, Bodhi Art, Singapore
2004 ‘A Tribute to Bhupen Khakhar’, Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai
2004 ‘Indian Artists for France’, Alliance Francaise, New Delhi
2004 ‘The Margi and the Desi’, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
2004 ‘Interlude in Srilanka’, The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai
2003 ‘Of Memories, Dreams, Reveries’ ,Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi
2003 ‘Shantipath’, Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai
2002 ‘Leela’, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
2002 ‘Navarasa’, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
2002 ‘Cinema Still’, Apparao Galleries, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
2001 ‘The Aesthetic Experience’, Sakshi Gallery and Art Underground, Mumbai.
2001 ‘In Conversation’, Galery Espace, New Delhi
2001 ‘Similarities and Dissimilarities – West’, Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai
2000 ‘Once Upon a Time’, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
2000 ‘Memoirs of the Past, Images of the Present and Picturing the Future…’, The Fine Art Company, Mumbai
2000 ‘Faces’, Design Art, New Delhi
2000 ‘Beyond the Surface’, Gallery Espace, Delhi and Fine Art Company, Mumbai
2000 ‘Early Works’, The Fine Art Company, Mumbai
1999 ‘The World Is Round and Time is Cyclical’, Art Today, New Delhi
1999 ‘Humour on Line’, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
1999 ‘Icons of the Millenium’, Lakeeren , Mumbai
1999 ‘Ganesha’, Chauraha International, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Mumbai
1999 ‘Multiple Images’, organized by Sir Jamsetjee Parsee benevolent – Institute of Sir J.J. School of Applied Art, Mumbai
1998 Wilberding Collection of Contemporary Indian Art, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
1997 ‘Major Trends in Indian Art since 1947’, Lalit Kala Akademi, Delhi
1997 ‘Gift for India', Sahmat, New Delhi
1997 James Harvey Gallery, Sydney
1995 ‘A Tree In My life’, Village Gallery, New Delhi
1995 Gouache on paper, Gallery Espace, New Delhi
1995 ‘Post Cards for Gandhi’, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, New Delhi
1995 ‘Indian Beast’, The Gallery, Chennai
1995’Watercolours – A Broad Spectrum’, Gallery Chemould
1995 Art for CRY, Mumbai
1994 Drawing 94, Delhi
1993 Schoo's Gallery, Amsterdam
1993 Art for CRY, Delhi
1993 Shraddha Samarpan, Mumbai
1991 ‘Artists Against Communalism Images and Words’, touring exhibition
1990 A gallery of Indians, Harvard
1990 Gadyaparva Exhibition, Mumbai
1990 Chitragurjari, Mumbai
1989 Indian Contemporary Art, Amsterdam
1989 Artist Alert, Delhi
1988 Art for CRY, Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Bangalore


2011 ‘Manifestations V', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2011 'The Intuitive: Logic Revisted', from the Osians Collection at The World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland
2010 'Master’s Corner', organized by Indian Contemporary Art Journal at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; India International Art Fair, New Delhi
2010 'National Printmaking Portfolio', Marvel Art Gallery, Ahmedabad
2010 ‘Manifestations IV, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
2010 'Roots', 25th Anniversary Exhibition of Sakshi Art Gallery, Mumbai at The Park, Chennai
2009 'Lo Real Maravilloso: Marvelous Reality', 20 Years Celebration of Gallery Espace at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1996 'Harmony Show', Nehru Centre, Mumbai
1996 Biennale, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
1995 ‘Utsava’, Festival of Perth, Amsterdam
1990 Painting Biennale, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
1986 Sixth Triennale, New Delhi

Honours & Awards

2003 Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, Italy
1974 Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Ahmedabad
1968 Gujarat State Lalit Kala Academy, Gujarat