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Yeshwant Mali

Born, 1934 in Bombay, India

Yeshwant (sometimes written as Yashwant) Mali (born in Bombay, India in 1934)

In 1963, a number of recently arrived artists from India came together to form the Indian Painters Collective. Mali was one of those artists. This was however, a relatively short-lived venture. One of the ventures of the Indian Painters Collective was an exhibition, Six Indian Painters, held at the Tagore India Centre, India House, London, in 1964 (Six Indian Painters, Gajanan D. Bhagwat, Balraj K. Khanna, Yashwant Mali, S. V. Rama Rao, Lancelot Ribeiro, and Ibrahim Wagh, Tagore India Centre, London, 9 - 28 November 1964).

The exhibition catalogue was introduced as follows,

“The artists exhibited here are also the founder members of “The Indian Painters Collective”. The group consists of Indian artists living and working in London. It has been formed with the intention of holding frequent exhibitions under their own auspices and also to participate in other exhibitions here and on the continent. Their work represents a cross section of Indian painting today. The young and talented members of this group have won a good deal of acclaim in India and some are also known abroad.”

Subsequently, Mali was involved in a group known as IAUK - Indian Artists United Kingdom. He exhibited with the group (alongside Prafulla Mohanti, Lancelot Ribeiro, Suresh Vedak, Ibrahim Wagh, and Mohammad Zakir) in an exhibition at Burgh House Museum, New End Square, Hampstead, London NW3. The exhibition was Exhibition of Paintings by IAUK Indian Artists living in U.K. and took place 27 January - 24 February 1980. The brochure for the exhibition featured the following useful introduction to IAUK:

“Throughout the history of art, at least throughout the history of modern art, there have been groups of artists. The reason for the existence of these groups have been perhaps as diverse as the ideas behind them. But invariably there have been sound human reasons for these groups to come about.
     The IAUK too has similar reasons for its existence. It is an Association of Professional Artists of Indian origin who have lived and worked in the UK for the last fifteen years or more. It is a revised version of an earlier body - The Indian Painters Collective, 1963 - a revival which is influenced by practical reasons derived from the result of its members’ efforts during their individual struggle for recognition.
     We, the members of IAUK, have come to believe that if the issues concerning us are approached collectively, we stand a better chance of succeeding and thus of making a positive contribution to the arts and culture of this country we have now made our home.
     Among the IAUK‘s aims are the recognition of its members’ work on an equal basis with their British contemporaries and the fulfilment of their rights to the amenities and facilities available in this democratic society. The IAUK would like to assist and promote Indian artists living in this country by showing their work. And, through exhibitions at 8 South Audley Street, London W1, and other selected places, it will attempt to create a growing awareness of the Indian arts and culture among the general public.
     The IAUK is the only organisation of its kind outside India. It functions on strict democratic lines.”

The brochure featured brief biographical notes on each of the artists. Mali’s were,

“Joined the Faculty of Fine Arts at Sir J.J. School of Art, Bombay and received Diploma in painting in 1956. Won a scholarship for post graduate studies in mural painting, in 1957. Specialised in portraiture and won the Bombay Art Society’s Gold Medal in 1960. Participated in major exhibitions in India and won many awards. In 1961, had his first one-man show at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay. Came to England in 1962. Exhibited in one-man show and group shows in Britain, Paris and India.
     Between 1976 and 1978, lived in Brighton and the element of ‘Sea’ had entereed into his work. Works represented in private collections in America, West Indies, Europe and the Far East. Organised Exhibitions for Nava Kala, I.S.C.C. & Mandeer Gallery.”

Mali was a member of Rainbow Art Group, an intriguing new initiative of the late 1970s, involving a number of London’s artists. Briefly, the history of the group was as follows: “In the Spring of 1978 MAAS (Minorities’ Arts Advisory Service) held its second London conference. This conference which took place on the 14th April 1978, summoned together people from ethnic groups living in London who were involved with the arts of London’s ethnic groups… The visual artists recognised the main problem that exists in relation to the work and aspirations of all ethnic minorities in the art world, including their own. This is the difficulty that all find in getting their work considered seriously and supported through established channels. They therefore decided, at the Conference, to form an organisation with the aim of promoting their work and, by joint efforts, to make a positive contribution to the cultural life of the country. In this way they hope eventually to create a climate of knowledge and appreciation that will allow the work of the future generation to be admired and sought after on its own merits and not simply because it happens to be the work of an ethnic minority. The first tasks were to find a name, qualify aims and objectives and work out a constitution. At the group’s second meeting held on the 24th June 1978 at the Keskidee Centre, the members agreed that the group should be named ‘Rainbow Art Group’ thereafter.” (1)

The group consisted of Indira Ariyanayagam, Uzo Egonu, Lancelot Ribeiro, Taiwo Jegede, Errol Lloyd, Yeshwant Mali, Gordon V. de La Mothe, Durlabh Singh, Suresh Vedak, Ibrahim Wagh, and Mohammad Zakir. Rainbow Art Group undertook several exhibitions during the time of its existence.

(1) Rainbow Art Group exhibition leaflet, for a show of “Paintings and Sculptures” at Action Space, London, 22 May – 9 June 1979.

Related items

click to show details of Exhibition of Paintings by IAUK Indian Artists living in U.K. brochure
click to show details of IAUK Indian Artists United Kingdom folder

»  IAUK Indian Artists United Kingdom folder

Catalogue relating to a publication

click to show details of Six Indian Painters catalogue

»  Six Indian Painters catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1964

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  Action Space

London, United Kingdom

»  Burgh House Museum

London, United Kingdom

»  Tagore India Centre, India House, London

London, United Kingdom