Bawa was born in 1941 in Dhuri, British India. His elder brothers encouraged him to pursue art. He studied fine arts at the College of Art, New Delhi between 1958 and 1963, where his professors included Somnath Hore, Rakesh Mehra, Dhanaraj Bhagat and B.C. Sanyal.
Between 1964 and 1971, Bawa worked as a silkscreen printer in Britain, where he also studied art. Manjit Bawa’s canvases are distinguishable in their colors – the ochre of sunflowers, the green of the paddy fields, the red of the sun, the blue of the mountain sky. He was one of the first painters to break out of the dominant grays and browns and opted for more traditionally Indian colors like pinks, reds and violet.
He had painted Ranjha, the cowherd from the tragic ballad Heer Ranjha and Lord Krishna with a flute surrounded by dogs and not cows as in mythological paintings. Indian gods Kali and Shiva, whom Bawa considers as “icons of my country”, also figure prominently in his paintings.
Manjit Bawa lived in Delhi. his wife’s name was Sharda Bawa. Manjit Bawa’s son’s name is Ravi Bawa and his daughter’s name is Bhavana Bawa. He died on 29 December 2008. He was in a coma for three years after suffering a stroke.
Vikash Kalra is a self-taught artist & writer based in New Delhi whose work has been exhibited across India and is held in several private and corporate collections.