Tyeb Mehta was born in 1925 in Kapadwanj, Gujarat.
In 1944 he joined ‘Famous Cine Laboratory’ at Tardeo and worked as an assistant to the film editor for three years. In 1947, while travelling by tram he met Mr. A. A Majid (a famous director of that era) and ex-student of Sir J.J. School of Art. He helped Tyeb to get admission in Sir J.J. School of Art. At the school he met S.B. Palshiker. He met S.H. Raza who introduced him to the artists of the Progressive Artists' Group (PAG). In 1950, he visited Delhi with Akbar and others to see the ‘Indian Art’ at Rashtrapati Bhavan. In 1952 he passed out from Sir J. J. School of Art. In 1954 he went to Paris and London to study works of old and modern masters after four months he returned to India. In 1956 he had painted ‘Rickshaw Pullers’ and ‘Trussed Bull’. In 1957 he joined faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda to study sculpture. He executed a few terracotta sculptures. In 4 months he returned to Bombay and continued painting and creating works in wood and plaster of Paris. In 1960 he went to London. In 1964 after his stay of five years in London, Tyeb returned to India with his family. In 1965 he settled in Delhi. There he met artists, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Ramchandran, etc. In 1968 he travelled to Italy, Spain, Amsterdam and London. He travelled extensively in U.S.A., Japan, Hong Kong. In 1969 he returned to India. In 1969 he started using diagonal as a pictorial element till 1976. In 1974 he travelled to Paris (sponsored by I.C.C.R) and he showcased six large paintings at Cagnes-Sur-Mer and Menton Biennale and was awarded ‘Merit Certificate’. He returned to Delhi. In 1978 - 1979 he shifted to Bombay. In 1983 he was invited to Vishwa Bharati University at Santiniketan as an Artist in Residence for two years, where he had interacted with K. G. Subramanyan, Somnath Hore, Sarbari Rai Choudhary. In 1984 while he recuperated, he painted ‘Santiniketan Triptych’ and did a large Bull Torso in bronze.
Tyeb had several solo exhibitions in India and overseas:
1958 - 1959 he had one man show at Jehangir Art Gallery organised by Bal Chhabda (Gallery 59). In 1961 he had a one man show at Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford. In 1966 and 1967 he showcased solo at Kumar Gallery, Delhi. In 1966 he had a solo at Taj Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1968 he exhibited solo at Common Institute Art Gallery, London. In 1969 and 1971 he had one person show at Kunika - Chemould Gallery, New Delhi. In 1971, 1976, 1984, 1986 and in 1990 he had one-person show at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai. In 1984 he exhibited his works at Nandan, Santiniketan. In 1985 he showcased a solo exhibition at Chemould Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1986 - 1987 he returned to Mumbai and created Kali paintings. He executed Trussed Bull on Rickshaw (Triptych). In 1990 he had a one-man show at Chemould Art Gallery, Mumbai, Art Heritage, New Delhi and Birla Academy, Calcutta. In 1996 he exhibited Celebration at Vadhera Art Gallery, New Delhi. In 1996 he had a solo exhibition at Black Partridge Art Gallery, New Delhi. In 1999 he created Falling Bird.
He participated in various group exhibitions:
In 1960 he participated in Art Alive at Northampton Museum. In 1961 he participated in a group show and had 2 person exhibition in Gallery One along with Paritosh Sen. In 1960 and 1962 he took part in London Group Show. In 1965 he participated in Art Now in India; London; Painters at MIT and New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, USA and he participated in National Exhibition in New Delhi. In 1965 he painted his first ‘Falling Figure’ and participated in the First Triennale at Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi. In 1974 he took part in Deuxieme Biennale Internationale de Menton and Festival Internationale de la Peinture at Cagnes-Sur-Mer. In 1975 he participated in Third Triennale India. In 1977 he took part in ‘Pictorial Space’ at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 1979 he took part in ‘Focus, Four Painters Directions’ at Gallery Chemould. In 1981 he showcased in the Inaugural Exhibition at Roopankar, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. In 1982 he participated in Fifth Triennale India and showcased in ‘Modern Indian Paintings’ at Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. in U.S.A. and participated in ‘India: Myth and Reality’ at Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in U.K. He showcased in ‘Contemporary Indian Art’, Festival of India at Royal Academy of Arts. In 1985 he participated in ‘Contemporary Indian Painters’, Festival of India in U.S.A. at Grey Art Gallery, New York. In 1986 he participated in Coups-de-Coeurs: Exhibition of Indian Paintings at Geneva, Switzerland. In 1987 he took part in ‘Artists Today East West Encounters’ at Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay (organised by Max Mueller Bhavan). He showcased at C.C.M.B. in Hyderabad. In 1988 he took part in ‘Contemporary Indian Art’ exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (organised by Vadehra Art Gallery). In 1988 he participated in ‘17 Indian Painters’ at Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay. In 1989 he showcased in ‘Timeless Art’ organised by the Times of India, Mumbai. In 1993 he took part in ‘Wounds’ Exhibition at CIMA, Calcutta and he showcased in ‘Trends and Images’ at CIMA, Calcutta. In 1994 he showcased in ‘Seven Indian Painters’ at Gallery Le Monde I’ Art, Paris. In 1996 he participated in ‘Chamatkara: Myth and Magic in Indian Art’ at Whiteleya Art Gallery, London. In 1997 he participated in Contemporary Art: Post Independence at NGMA, New Delhi. He also took part in ‘50 Years of Art in Bombay 1947 - 1997’, at NGMA, Bombay. Tyeb showcased in ‘Tryst with Destiny: Art From Modern India’, at Singapore Art Museum, Singapore.
He won several awards:
In 1950 he won the Bombay Art Society award. In 1965 Tyeb won the National Exhibition Award at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 1968 he was awarded Gold Medal at First Triennale India, New Delhi. In 1968 he was awarded J.D. Rockerfeller III Fellowship for one year. In 1971 he was awarded Filmfare Critics’ Award for his film ‘Koodal’ written and directed for Films Division - Government of India. In 1974 he was awarded Prix Nationale at the Festival Internationale de Peinture, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France. From 1984 - 1986 he was invited as an Artist in Residence for 2 years by Vishwa Bharati at Santiniketan. In 1988 he was awarded Kalidas Samman by Government of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. In 2004 he was given Manpatra by Maharashtra Government, Mumbai. He was awarded Gold Medal by President at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 2013 Tyeb was showcased with S. H. Raza, M. F. Husain, V. S. Gaitonde and Ram Kumar in the show titled as 'The Moderns' at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 2007 he was conferred ‘Padma Bhushan’ by the Government of India.
In 2009 Tyeb Mehta passed away.