Remembering Sri. Haku Shah
Sri. Haku Shah passed away on 21st March 2019 at Ahmadabad with a cardiac arrest. He was born on 26th March 1934 near Surat, Gujarat, studied in Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda, right from BFA & MFA [1952-59] under the tutelage of Late. K.G.Subramanyan. Mr. Shah and Sri.K.G. had a special relation. They were from the fraternity of Gandhian philosophy. K.G. was the teacher who encouraged his students to work and revive and rethink about traditional arts and crafts. Whether that too added to his ideology or his thoughts were too travelled on the same roots is not the question to ponder at this juncture, Mr. Shah continued to work with increased passion in traditional, folk and tribal arts. He not only worked like a researcher, he wrote about them, he collected the artifacts and created a permanent village museum, Shilpa Gram at Udaipur in 1989.
He taught in Gandhi Ashram Ahmadabad and met a tribe Rani Paraj and realized the magical quality of their works. That was the day his passion took another turn to understand, collect and curate the folk and tribal arts as a cultural anthropologist. Once he created wall paintings in the style of folk arts and travelled many villages carrying messages through those wall paintings about the social exploitation. He believed and said Modern arts and Folk/Tribal arts should get the equal regard and acknowledgement.
Right from his childhood he enjoyed and developed a passion for painting, poetry, music and theater and enjoyed the relation between these arts. As he believed in Gandhian philosophy he lived in a Khadi costume simple life. Gujarat Vidyapeeth of Ahmedabad was established as an alternative education away from British education. He created a museum of traditional and tribal arts there as part of that integral education system. He loved the simplicity and the directness of expression in Tribal and Folk arts. His work too influenced by this style. A blue boy with a stick on his shoulder is seen in most of his paintings. It is difficult too to say whether he is a Blue god Krishna, Fulani of West Africa, Masai of Kenya, shepherd of Persia, Afghanistan. He had seen a universal faith and similarities in human thoughts and believes. He found no boundaries amongst many faiths. He stood as one of the landmarks of Modern Art in India. He was a man of few words and always his hands were on work.
He was regarded by Govt. of India with Padmasree in 1989, received Rockfeller fellowship and Gagan Avani Puraskar, Nehru Fellowships and many more helped and supported his continued work in Folk/Tribal arts. His journey to abode certainly made a void in the field of art who found no boundaries between art forms.