Mumbai: Jehangir Sabavala, one of the most talented artists India had ever produced, passed away early Friday morning, just a week after his 89th birth anniversary.
The legendary painter was one of India`s most beloved artists, who symbolised the modest graciousness.
He resided at the old Altamount Road in Mumbai and was very much unlike a popular artist. His lifestyle was simple even if his vision for life was larger than life and symbolic on the canvas.
He was someone who was a healthy balance of modernity beautifully blended with tradition. His fair complexion had an unusual glow that reflected his persona of a kind and a generous human being.
Recalling memories spent with Sabavala, close friend and artist Mehlli Gobhai said to a daily, "Diwali and New Years certainly won`t be the same at Golwad."
Sabavala’s death has created a vacuum. Jerry Pinto, a noted writer said, "When I first met him, I was sure that the patina of elegance was a put-on. And then, I realised that here was truly the intersection of civilisation and civility."
Sabavala had an aristocratic lineage. His family was responsible for the setting up of many iconic buildings, including the Gothic building. His mother, Bapsy Cowasjee Jehangir, was equally famous and a loveable person.
The master painter was educated at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, later at Elphinstone and finally at the JJ School of Arts.
He later moved to London. He then moved to Paris and stayed there for almost four years to pursue further studies in art. He and his wife Shirin (who he met at London) then moved to Mumbai and finally settled as one of the most socially active couples.
Malti Divecha, one of the Sabavala’s oldest friends, recalls how both of them had come home from hospital on the same day after their respective surgeries a few years ago. "But the very next day, he came to see me," she says. "I was so touched."
The legend had no inhibitions mixing with people belonging to the lower strata of the society. Apart from being a famous painter, he was also a genuine individual.
"He always expressed an intelligent curiosity in the lives of others. When we met him a few days ago we were taken aback by the lifeforce ablaze in his eyes," said friend Nancy Adajania.