He is an Indian artist best known for his modernist work in painting and printmaking and also his photographic documentation of rural Indian culture. He studied painting under N. S. Bendre and K. G. Subramanyan at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao Universtity (M. S. U.), Baroda. Later he studied fresco and mural painting at Banasthali Vidyapith in Rajasthan, and in the early 1960s went on to study at the Academia di Belle Arti in Naples, Italy, as well the Pratt Institute in New York.
Bhatt moved from a cubist influence in his early work, to a lighthearted and colorful Pop art that often drew its imagery from traditional Indian folk designs. Though Bhatt worked in a variety of mediums, including watercolors and oils, it is his printmaking that ultimately garnered him the most attention. In 1966 Bhatt returned to M. S. U. Baroda with a thorough knowledge of the intaglio process that he had gained at the Tamarind Workshop in New York. It was partially Bhatt’s enthusiasm for intaglio that caused other artists such as Jeram Patel, Bhupen Khakhar and Gulammohammed Sheikh, to take up the same process. Bhatt, and his compatriots at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda, soon came to be known as "The Baroda School" of Indian art.
Late in the 1960s Bhatt was asked to take photographs of Gujarati folk art. Initially this work was done for a seminar, but it soon became one of the artist’s passions to document traditional Indian craft and design work. The disappearing arts of rural Gujarat became a focus. Though Bhatt’s investigations into village and tribal designs certainly influenced the motifs he used in his printmaking, Bhatt considers his documentary photographs to be an art form in themselves. His direct and simply composed photographs have become valued on their own merit.
Throughout Bhatt’s long career as a teacher at the M.S.U. Faculty of Fine Arts, he has photographed the evolution of the university, the artistic activities of its faculty and students, and the architecturally significant buildings of Baroda. This huge body of work is perhaps the best assembled photographic documentation that pertains to "The Baroda School" of Indian art.
It is Jyoti Bhatt’s prints, however, that are most associated with the artist. His etchings, intaglios, and screen prints have explored and re-explored a personal language of symbols that stem from Indian culture: the peacock, the parrot, the lotus, stylized Indian gods and goddesses, and unending variations on tribal and village designs. Recently he has explored digital printing and holography.
His work is in numerous international collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D. C., and The British Museum, London.
Deeply impressed by Anand Coomaraswamy's Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, Jyoti Bhatt realised that the art of a traditional society has many strands which reinforce one another. Each work of art provides an avenue of creativity, and refines human sensibilities and responses. Living within a creative network, an individual artist attains a special stature and refinement. The Disappearance of the network, with the breakdown of traditional cultures, is bound to cause cultural impoverishment and disorientation.
Jyoti Bhatt spends a lot of time recording the village arts with great understanding and aesthetic sensibility. He has visually recorded the whole heritage of Rangoli. Rangoli was perhaps introduced in Gujarat through Maharashtra during the rule of Gaekwads. Today, during Diwali there is a common practice of decorating the floors with handdrawn Rangoli is a sign of auspiciousness, in South-India Kolam is a daily ritual.
Photography is unique in so far as the camera has the ability to freeze a decisive moment, or even the fraction of a moment. Whether an artist or a photographer, the approach to life or landscape is similar. They do not miss the opportunity to synthesise human figures with static background that show painted, or drawn, images on walls or floors. The reason to include human forms, landscape, birds or animals is to give a sense of scale to the art forms recorded. Such contents also generate important information, not only of the art forms but of the human beings directly associated with them. They need not be candid photographs; in fact, the intentions are to record some of the racial and ethnic characteristics of another fellow staring consciously into the camera-lens of the photographer.
- 1966 : Learnt Printmaking, Pratt Institute and Pratt Graphic Art Center, New York
- 1962 : Studied at Academia Di Belle Arti, Naples, under Italian Government Scholarship
- 1956 : Studied painting, under N. S. Bendre, K. G. Subramanyan and Sankho Chaudhuri, Faculty of Fine Arts,
Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda
- 1953 : Learnt mural and fresco painting, Vanasthali vidyapeeth, Rajasthan
- 1999 : Centre for Photography, National Center for Policy Analysis and The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
Group Shows :
- 2005 : Manifestations III, by Delhi Art Gallery, Nehru Center, Mumbai and Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
- 2004 : Printed Image An Overview Retrospective Exhb. of Graphic Prints, ABS Bayer Gallery, Baroda
- 1969 : Sao Paulo Trinidad, Brazil
- 1961 : International Biennale for the Young Artists, Paris
- 2004 : Awarded Hon. Doctorate, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata
- 2001 : Kalashri, AIFACS, New Delhi
- 2000 : Senior Artist Award, AIFACS, New Delhi
- 2000 : Gujarat State Award, Gujarat
- 1989 : Grand-Prix, 13th Annual Photo Contest for Asia and Pacific, UNESCO, Japan
- 1978 : Top Prize, World Photo Contest, Fotokina, Germany
- 1967 : First Prize for graphic print, State Lalit Kala Akademi Exhb., Gujarat
- 1966 : Fulbright Scholarship and JDR 3rd Fund Fellowship
- 1963 : National Award, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
- 1956 : President’s Gold Plaque
- Gold Medal, International Print Biennale, Italy
- Bronze Medal, Nikon World Photo Contest, Japan
- Silver Medal, Bombay Art Society, Bombay
- Cultural Scholarship by Ministry of Culture and Education, Govt. of India
- First Prize for the postal stamps design for the 25th Anniversary of Independence of India
- Gaurav Puraskar, State Lalit Kala Akademi, Gujarat
- National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
- Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
- The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
- Craft Museum, New Delhi
- Art Heritage, New Delhi
- Museum of Modern Art, New York
- Smith Sonnian Museum, Washington
- Pratt Graphic Art Center, New York
- Uffizi Gallery, Florence
- Düsseldorf Art Museum, Düsseldorf
- British Museum, London
- Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
- Centre for Photography, National Center for Policy Analysis, Mumbai
- CIMA, Kolkata
- Pheroza Godrej, Mumbai