Shanti Panchal

Shanti Panchal is a leading London-based Indian artist with an international reputation.

He has won the 1991 National Portrait Gallery/BP Portrait Award, was Artist-in-Residence at the National Gallery in London in 1994, and was a 2003 nominee for the UK Asian Achievers Awards. During 2010-11 he was included in the Tate Britain initiated touring exhibition, and has had a painting commissioned in 1989 and recently bought a painting of his sons in Afghanistan by The Imperial War Museum.

Born in 1951 in Mesar in the state of Gujarat, Shanti Panchal studied art at the JJ School of Art in Mumbai where he also worked on a fellowship for a year. Further study at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London a British Council Scholarship directed his future track that included a stint as artist-in-residence at the British Museum in London.

For over twenty five years Panchal has worked solely in watercolour not prepared to accept the conventional limits he pushes the boundaries of his medium, developing a unique way of using watercolour that is close to the art of fresco, building layer upon layer almost in a meditative state of being.

Only by living away from the culture of his formative years, Shanti is able to crystallize his thoughts and vision hence when Shanti talks about his paintings he explains:

The earthen colours of my palette relate to my early years spent in a village in Gujarat, Western India. It is strange but through these experiences I found myself inspired to develop a very personal visual language. In my paintings of the family in which I grew up, where western notions of privacy were absent, the characters manage to create their own inner space and the lack of privacy often highlights their essential loneliness.

Many of Panchal’s paintings include graceful figures with large dark soulful eyes illustrating a personal vision suspended in time taking on an almost mythological atmosphere. In all of this artist’s compositions he creates a narrative questioning our place in the world, literally illuminating the everyday until it is full of beauty. He creates an intimacy which draws us closer to another culture and presents an insight into the artists mind.

Andrew Lambirth wrote.’ (‘Luminous Serenity’, The Spectator, January 2007)

His… ‘Are luminous images of great poise and dignity, which quite often attain gravity unusual in contemporary portraiture… Shanti Panchal, through a thorough understanding of interval and placement and a palette which is both powerful and subtle, makes paintings of rare poetry and eloquence.‘

Shanti Panchal 2012 At School - Artshouse Gallery

Shanti Panchal’s paintings are sculptures of light. They aren’t flat, still less shimmers across a screen. You need to see them in the flesh, in the same way you look at someone you love. Then you become aware of the thickness of the heavy, hand-made sheets of paper he works on, and their richly textured, absorbent surfaces. His is, primarily, a physical art. But the substance he is modelling, cutting into and shaping is not material; it’s nothing less than light itself. Panchal has developed a unique and remarkable way of using watercolour that is close to the (mostly lost) art of fresco, a method of painting on wet plaster so that the pigments become embedded in the wall. Panchal’s colours aren’t surface glazes illuminated, like a stained glass window, by the light of the white paper shining through behind them. His colours don’t flash with a quick smile across the surface. They stay still, breathe and glow. His art isn’t a river; it’s a lake. His aim is to slow life down, and dig deep.

Eyes are outsiders in his art, leaf-windows on to the world he has come from, where day does battle with night, and black suns hang in pearl-white skies. His eyes glint with reflections, the only surfaces allowed to shine. They look like fish out of water, surrounded by soft, absorbing meditations. Eyes are strangers here, because his whole pictures see. The light in Panchal’s painting is the inner light of meditation, the light of love, affection and admiration, the light of quietness when we distil our sense of being. He paints friendship – in Laxmi-Naryan and Son – a portrait of a friend who lived in Maldon, Essex, with his devout Hindu parents, before a golden staircase. Steps are often a feature of his art; thoughts leading to realms we cannot grasp. There are none in The Roots, a portrait of two of his sons who served in the Royal Marines in Helmand, Afghanistan. This is a remarkably tender painting of the imprisoning presence of fear. Panchal has written of this painting:

As we all know that there is State support to those soldiers who come back wounded, but many of them (only in their late teens) who return with their limbs intact, are disturbed mentally and emotionally and scarred for life. They are so traumatized with the experience of brutal war, unable to sleep well – often having nightmares, have lost contact with friends as they have been away for a while, unable to make a relationship. They are really lost and unable to adjust to normal life, for these men there is no State support or care of any kind as physically they appear to be normal and the fact is that they need help and I feel that these issues are not addressed. Therefore, I wanted to highlight the plight of these young man and their families who suffer in silence.


CV and Exhibitions


Born : Mesar (Gujarat), India
Studied : Sir JJ School of Art, Bombay and Byam Shaw School of Art, London (The British Council Scholarship)

  • 1976 Fellowship Sir JJ School of Art, Bombay
  • 1976-78 Taught Sophia College Polytechnic, Bombay
  • 1994 Artist-in-residence, British Museum, London and Harris Museum, Preston
  • 2000 Artist-in-residence, Wisor & Newton Art Factory, London


One Person Exhibitions

  • 1978 Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
  • 1980 Arts 38 Gallery, London
  • 1983 October Gallery, London
  • 1984 St Botolph’s, Aldgate curated by the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
    1. Shanti Panchal: Earthen Shades, Arts Council funded touring exhibition, curated by Cartwright Hall,Bradford and Castlefield Gallery, Manchester , touring to 10 venues across UK.
  • Kirklees, Huddersfield Cleveland Gallery, Middlesborough
  • Oriel Gallery, Cardiff Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
  • Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth Newlyn Oriel Gallery, Penzance
  • Third Eye, Glasgow Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Nottingham
  • 1991 Square Gallery, London
  • 1992 Royal Festival Hall, The South Bank Centre, London
  • 1993 Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
  • 1998 Shanti Panchal: The Windows of the Soul, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham and
  • 1999 Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham
  • 2000 Chappel Galleries, Chappel, Essex
  • Shanti Panchal: Private Myths, Pitshanger Manor Gallery, London touring to
  • 2001 Cartwright Hall, Bradford, Blackburn Museum and Art Galleries, Blackburn and
  • 2002 Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry.
  • 2003 Berni Gallery, Jersey Art Centre, Jersey, Channel Islands.
  • Shanti Panchal: A Personal Journey, The British Council, Mumbai, touring to Jehangir Art Gallery and Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai, curated by Usha Mirchandani and Phiroza Godrej.
  • 2006-07 Shanti Panchal: In the Mind’s eye, Chelmsford Museum, Chelmsford, Essex.

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 1980 Grand Prix International D’Art Contemporain, Monte Carlo, Monaco
  • 1982 Between Two Worlds, Barbican Gallery, London.
    Gallerie Nina Dausset, Paris
  • 1982-87 Whitechapel Open, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
  • 1983 Contemporary British Watercolours, Bankside Gallery, London
  • 1985-87 JP Portrait Award Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 1987-89 John Moores Liverpool exhibition 15 and 16, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
  • 1988 Gujarati Indian Artists, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester
  • 1988-90 The Contemporary Art Society, Smith Galleries, London
  • 1989 On Commission: The Artistic Records Committee 1972-89, Imperial War Museum, London
    Figuratively Speaking, The Bankside Gallery, London
  • 1989-90 The Tree of Life: New images of an ancient symbol, Cornerhouse Manchester, curated by the South Bank Centre and tour
  • 1990-91 The South Bank Picture Show, Royal Festival Hall, London
  • 1991 BP Portrait Award exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • 1993 Innocence and Experience:Images of children in British art from 1600 to the present, curated by Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester and tour
    Discerning Eye, invited by the Judge Stephen Tumim, The Mall Galleries, London
    Cadences of the Heart: Works from South Asia in British Collections, Mead Gallery, Coventry
  • 1995-96 Splash: Contemporary watercolour painting, curated by Walsall Museum and Art Gallery and tour
  • 1996 Talking Pictures, Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham Under Anden Himmel: International Triennale, Copenhagen,
  • 1997 The Judge Hangs: a personal selection by Sir Stephen Tumim, Michael Parkin Gallery, London
  • 1999 Watercolour C21, Bankside Gallery, London
    Chichester Open Art Exhibition, Edes House, Chichester
  • 2000 W & N World-wide millennium painting competition, London, Brussels, Stockholm and New York
    An Exemplary Life, Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, Suffolk
    Cultural Ties, Jariwala/Westzone Gallery, London
  • 2001 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
    The Singer & Friedlander / Sunday Times Watercolour Competion, London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham
  • 2002 Intimacy, The Lowry, Manchester.
  • 2003 Shantipath, Tao Art Gallery, Worli, Mumbai, India.
  • 2004 Anticipations, Fine Art Resource, Jehangir Art Gallery and The Museum Gallery, Mumbai, India.
  • 2005 Faith, Castle Museum, Nottingham
    LPS open exhibition, London.
  • 2006-08 Royal Society of Portrat Painters, Mall Galleries, London and Manchester
    Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
    Indian Images, Art Pilgrim, London
  • 2007 Rigard and Ritual (two persons show) Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art, curated by Rachel Dickson & Julia Weiner, touring to 2008 CCi Space (university Gallery launch) Portsmouth.
  • Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
    Ananya, an overview of contemporary art, Visual Arts Gallery and Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India
  • 2009 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London.
    RWS/ Sunday Times watercolour competition, London and touring
    Anglo-Indian Express, a group show, Grosvenor Gallery, London.>
  • 2009-10 Portrait Prize Winners, A Gallery, Wimbledon, London, curated be Beatriz Hernandes.
    At the Edge, British Art 1950-2000, organised by and touring to Touchstone Rochdale, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, Gallery Oldham and Bolton Museum & Art Gallery
  • 2010-11 Watercolour in Britain, curated by Tate Britain, touring to, Castle Museum
    Norwich, Millenium Gallery Sheffield, Laing Art Gallery Newcastle and Tate
    Britain London

Selected Awards

  • 1974 Bombay Art Society, Bombay
  • 1976 Maharashtra State Art Exhibition, Bombay
  • 1983 Chris Beetles Award, RSW Bankside Gallery, London
  • 1984 First Prize – Royal Overseas League, London
  • 1987 John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 15, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
  • 1989 First Prize – London Paperworks, Square Gallery, London
  • 1990 South Bank Picture Show, Royal Festival Hall, London
  • 1991 BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London
    South Bank Picture Show, Royal Festival Hall, London
  • 1999 First Prize, Chichester Open Art Exhibition, Edes House, Chichester
  • 2000 The Year of the Artists Award, London Arts, London
  • 2001 First Prize, The Singer & Friedlander/ Sunday Times watercolour competition, London
    Shortlisted artist for the Financial Times/ Arts & Business Awards, London
  • 2002 Nominated and shortlisted Artist for the Guild of British Asian Awards, London
  • 2003 Nominated artist for the Asian Achievers Awards, UK
    The British Council Award (to exhibit work in India)

Selected Commissions

  • 1985 Greater London Council, London.
  • National Garden Festival, City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.
    Homerton Hospital, Whitechapel Art Gallery and Public Art Trust
  • 1989 Imperial War Museum, London.
  • 1993 London Borough of Harrow
  • 1996 H. Goldie and Co Ltd for De Beers, London.
    Co-op Society CWS, Manchester.
  • 1997 Commissioned artist for two stained glass windows, London
  • 2006 B. Arunkumar / Rosyblue, Mumbai

Public Collections

  • Arthur Anderson Collection, London
  • Arts Council Collection
  • B Arunkumar / Rosyblue, Mumbai
  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham
  • Blackburn Museum & Art Galleries, Blackburn
  • British Museum, London
  • Cartwright Hall, Bradford
  • Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham
  • Coopers and Lybrand Collection, London
  • Co-op Society CWS, Manchester
  • Cymroza Art Gallery, Bombay
  • De Beers, London
  • Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston
  • Harrow Education Authority, Harrow, London
  • H. Goldie and Co Ltd, London
  • Homerton Hospital, Hackney, London
  • Imperial War Museum, London
  • Lalit Kala Academi, Ahmedabad
  • Leicestershire Museums, Arts and Records service, Leicester
  • Meghraj Bank, london
  • Meghraj Group, Jersey
  • Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke- On- Trent
  • Singer & Friedlander Group plc, London
  • Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
  • Walsall Museum and Art Gallery, Walsall
  • Winsor & Newton Art Factory, Harrow

Selected Bibliography


  • Max Wykes-Joyce, Shanti Panchal: Arts 38 Gallery, Arts Review, 4 July


  • Richard Cork, Art on View: Indian diversity, Evening Standard, 15 April


  • Mary Rose Beaumont, The Whitechapel Open Exhibition, Arts Review, 1 April
  • Peterborough, London Day by Day: Mystery Prize, The Daily Telegraph, 15 July, London


  • William Packer,East End’s local brew, Financial Times, 28 January.


  • Stephen Games, Not just a pretty face: Bringing water to a dry ground: Shanti Panchal, The Independent, 27 May


  • Jenni Lomax and Nima Smith, Earthen Shades: Paintings by Shanti Panchal, catalogue essays, Cartwright Hall, Bradford and Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
  • Susan Morris, Shanti Panchal, Arts Review, London, July 1


  • John Russell Taylor, The Show’s the thing, The Times, 11 July, London
  • Frank Ruhrmund, Earthen Shades: Shanti Panchal, Arts Review, November
  • Sarah Kent, Back for Moores, Time Out 20/20 magazine Issue No. 8, November


  • Philip Vann, Portrait of the Artist: Shanti Panchal, The Artist’s and Illustrator’s Magazine (cover page) Issue 43, April,
  • Kaveri Ponnapa, Indian Images: the Paintings of Shanti Panchal, Swagat-IA Magazine, September.
  • Angela Summerfield, Shared experience: Shanti Panchal, interview, overseas ROSL Quarterly Journal, September-November


  • Kaveri Ponnapa, Bestriding two cultures: Shanti Panchal, The Times of India Saturday Review, 6 April, Bombay
  • Tim Hilton, Choice: Shanti Panchal, The Guardian, 23 November


  • Marina Warner, catalogue essay, Shanti Panchal, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London.
  • Sarah Kent, Art Preview: Shanti Panchal, Time Out, July 29
  • Sara Holdsworth, catalogue, Innocence and Experience: images of children in British Art from 1600 to present, Manchester City Art Galleries ISBN 0 901673 00 5
  • Philip Vann, Seeing beyond the frame, RA Magazine, Preview No. 35, Summer, and Timeless Art: Shanti Panchal, Interview, Resurgence Magazine No. 153, July-August
  • John Russell Taylor, On an Indian painter who works in Britain, The Times, London, August 5
  • David Lee, Viewpoints: Shanti Panchal, Art Review, Vol XLIV August


  • Sister Wendy Beckett, The Gaze of Love: Mediations on Art, Marshall Pickering book ( page 72-73 ) Harper Collins Publication, London ISBN 0 551 02810 6
  • Nima Smith,catalogue, Candences of the Heart : works from South Asia in British Collections, Mead Gallery, Coventry
  • Mark W L Scott, Editor’s Choice: Discerning Eye, Shanti Panchal, Watercolours, Drawings and Prints Magazine Vol 8 No1


  • Sian Morgan, Shanti Panchal, Art & Craft Magazine, November


  • Sir Stephen Tumim, My Cultural Life, The Guardian, 13 September


  • The Times Diary, People – Party on: The week ahead, Saturday Directory, The Times, London, March 29


  • Philip Vann, Previews: Shanti Panchal, Galleries, Vol XV No. 12, May 1998, ISBN 0265 7511
  • Balraj Khanna and Aziz Kurtha, art of Modern India, Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-23755-7
  • Robin Dutt, Focus On: Shanti Panchal, Artists and Illustrators Magazine, Issue 141, June
  • Richard Cork, catalogue essay, Shanti Panchal: The Windows of the Soul, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham


  • Terry Grimley, Drawing on two Culture Scenes, Birmingham Post, January
  • John Russell Taylor, The Big Show: Windows of the Soul, The Times, Metro (page 42), London, Feb 13
  • Samira Seth, Interview: A Double Life, Art India, The Contemporary Art Magazine Vol. 4, Issue 2, Apr-Jun


  • Andrew Lambirth, catalogue essay, An Exemplary Life, Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, Suffolk
  • Norbert Lynton, catalogue essay, Shanti Panchal: Private Myths, Pitshanger Manor Gallery, London.
  • Kapil Jariwala, Introduction, Cultural Ties, Westzone Publishing Ltd (page 128-9) London ISBN 1 903391 08 3


  • Rich Jevons, Preview: Private Myths, The Leeds Guide, Leeds, January (page31)
  • Mick Rooney RA, Gallery VII, Royal Academy Illustrated, Summer Exhibition (page 104-114) London
  • Frank Whitford, Different strokes, The Sunday Times, Culture (page 6) London – Martin Gayford, Introductory Essay,BP Portrait Award 1990-2001, National Portrait Gallery (page 19) London ISBN 1 85514 328 3
  • Tracey Murkett, Inside Shanti Panchal’s Studio, an interview, artist & illustrators magazine, issue 183, December


  • Sharmila Sagara, Profile: Shanti Panchal, the Times of India Ahmedabad, March 17.
  • Two Distanced Figures for Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, National Art Collections Fund, 2002 Review.


  • Laura Gascoigne, Panchal’s latest exhibition, The Spectator, London,June and Sight Specific, Shanti Panchal/ M.P. Birla Art Gallery, What’s On in London magazine, June 25 – July 2
  • Priya Singh, Beyond the Conventional, a conversation with Shanti Panchal, The Asian Journey, Asian Voice, London
  • Heather Wells, The stillness of being, Faith and the Artist, Initiative, issue 9, Summer.
  • Deborah Swellow, Shanti Panchal: An Introduction and Kamala Kapoor, On Shanti Panchal, catalogue asseys, Shanti Panchal: A Personal Journey,
  • The British Council, Jehangir Art Gallery and Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai.
  • The Art of Shanti Panchal, Connecting magazine, British Council, Mumbai ( cover page and page 11) October
  • Kanu Nayak, On Art of Shanti Panchal, Mumbai Samachar, Mumbai
  • Philip Vann, interview, Shanti Panchal: Timeless Art, Images of Earth & Spirit, published by Green Books Ltd. UK.,
  • A Resurgence art anthology, edited by John Lane and Satish Kumar. ISBN 1 903998 29 8 (page 34)


  • Ranjit Hoskote, Introduction, Anticipations, Fine Art Resource, Jehangir Art Gallery and The Museum Gallery, Mumbai


  • Richard Davey, Catalogue Interview, Shanti Panchal, Faith, Castle Museum, Nottingham ISBN 0 905634 70 5


  • Dhruti Shah, Shanti Panchal at Christies Auction, Harrow Observer, London October 13


  • Sushma Bahl, catalogue, Indian Images, Art Pilgrim, London, November
  • Amit Roy, Eye on England: Riots of Colours The Telegraph, Calcutta and Panchal’s Paintings, Mid-Day news, Mumbai, Sunday 24 December


  • Philip Vann, Shanti Panchal, Galleries, volume XXIV No. 8, January 07 Issue 284 ISSN 0265-7511
  • Andrew Lambirth, Luminous Serenity, Shanti Panchal: In the Mind’s eye, Chelmsford Museum, The Spectator, 13 January
  • Richard Davey, A Contemplative eye on everyday things, Shanti Panchal: In the Mind’s eye, Chelmsford Museum, CHURCHTIMES No 7507, London, 26 January
  • Nicholas Usherwood, catalogue essay, Rigard and Ritual, Ben Uri Gallery / The London Jewish Museum of Art, April. ISBN: 978-0-900157-05-9
  • Philip Vann, Subtle Vibrancy, Resurgence magazine, Sep/Oct 2007 No 244, ISSN 0034-5970 (page 40)


  • Sushma Bahl, catalogue, Ananya, an overview of contemporary art, Visual Arts Gallery and Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India.