Jyoti Bhatt was born in Bhavnagar, Gujarat in 1934. He studied painting under N.S. Bendre and K.G. Subramanyan at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda. Later, he studied fresco and mural painting at Banasthali Vidyapith in Rajasthan and at the Academia di belle Art in Naples, Italy and the Pratt Institute and Pratt Graphic Centre in New York. 1985 saw him learning the basics of holography in the United Kingdom.
Bhatt taught at MSU, Baroda for 33 years.
Jyoti Bhatt’s works are in the prestigious collections of MOMA, New York, Pratt Graphic Art Centre, New York, Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Dusseldorf Art Museum, Dusseldorf, the British Museum, London, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Baroda Museum, Vadodara, Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal and some more. He is best known for his work in painting and printmaking and also his photographic documentation of visual culture mainly from rural and tribal India. He moved from a cubist influence in his early work to a light-hearted and colourful pop art that drew its imagery from traditional Indian folk designs.
In the words of Shukla Sawant, artist, art historian and curator, “In an artistic working life spanning a period of over five decades, Jyoti Bhatt has amassed a body of work that takes the physical form of photographs, paintings, prints, and drawings. His fascination for the ‘new’ has resulted in his being at the forefront of the technical avant-garde of modernism in India. In 1969, Jyoti Bhatt along with Gulamohammed Sheikh, Jeram Patel and Vinodray Patel among others, put together an exhibition called Painters with a Camera in Mumbai. Qualifying the camera as a painter’s tool, the artists in this exhibition sought to highlight the non-evidentiary painterly potential of the medium. An examination of Bhatt’s sizeable body of work in the photographic medium shows three very distinct categories: the documentary anthropological photograph, nature-scapes, and the candid everyday photographs of friends and colleagues. Out of these, his documentary photographs are perhaps his best-known body of work.
Bhatt’s interest in documenting the folk and tribal material culture of rural India was triggered off by K.G. Subramanyan’s desire to inculcate in his students a contextual study of the crafts in order to extend their vocabulary. From 1967 onwards, Bhatt travelled far and wide into the rural hinterlands, obsessively documenting the visual culture of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh… Bhatt’s photographs reveal a sense of deep admiration for the consummate design skills and aesthetic judgments of these rural communities.”