Dhawan’s paintings, with their sensitively rendered washes of blues, browns and reds, draw the viewer in to their unfathomable depths, compelling him to engage in a deeper communion. In the pure formalism one can see influences from Rothko but in the dialogues between silence and movement, one can intuit conversations with Gaitonde.
Dhawan is one of those rare artists whose works transcend his era. His paintings are some of the best examples of painterly abstraction in post-modern times. His meditative approach to painting enables him to create works with almost a zen-like minimalism, where sometimes even parts of the canvas-surface are left untouched, while other areas are brilliantly articulated with a single layer of diluted colors.
Rajendra Dhawan does not set out to be an abstractionist, his works have been appraised as impressionistic. They move toward the spirituality and timelessness of colour-field painting that hints towards a suspension of all tangibility. To quote the late artist, “I bring into painting my life experience…” An experience that subtly evolved during his lifetime. The palette of the painting evokes the graininess and watery deposits of a tertiary-scape, and yet it captures the lightness of clouds and air. The layers and cross-sections of the environment is characteristic of his idiom where the land is peeled off to reveal what is within. His works have been compared to mid-night dreams of lingering calmness. Rajendra Dhawan moved to Paris in 1970. He passed away in 2012, leaving a huge void in the art world.
Born in 1936 in Delhi, Dhawan studied at the Delhi School of Art and later went to Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris in 1953-1958 and to Belgrade Institute of Art in the year 1960- 62. He taught painting in India until 1962 and later received a grant to travel to Yugoslavia in 1964- 1966. He was the founder of “The Unknown” group which exhibited in 1964.
His last to exhibitions, Requiem works in Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi in 2011; Bodhi Art Gallery, Singapore and Mumbai in 2005; Gallery White Elephant, Paris, 2004; Talwar art Gallery, New York, 2002.; Gallery Seven, Mumbai in 2001; Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi in 1998; Galerie L’lf, Elne, France in 1995; Gallery Phillippe Bouakia, Paris, 1994; Gallery La Pardelere, Nantes, 1993; Gallery Francois, Paris, 1990; and Gallery du Haut-pave, Paris, 1972;
‘The Unknown’, All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi, 1964. His paintings find place in public collections including the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; the Foundation of Contemporary Art, Paris; The Glenbarra Museum In Japan; Terr us Museum in Elne, France; Riga-ult Museum in Perpignan and The Fond National d’Art Contemporain Convent Saint – Jacques in Paris.