Shanti Panchal was born in Mesar, a village in Gujarat, India, and studied at the Sir JJ School of Art, Bombay. He came to England on a British Council scholarship to study at the Byam Shaw School of Art, London from 1978-80, and has lived and worked in London since.
There is a contemplative stillness and tranquillity about the paintings which at first belies the complex interplay of emotions and relationships between the figures. Both together and alone, the figures gaze wide-eyed into space, or appear to reflect inwardly. They hold our attention with a solemn grandeur, whether in a room or outside, their surroundings are free from distracting detail. The simplicity of their settings suggests that they could be anywhere - in many places all at once, both real and imagined. They have therefore a timeless quality which gives them universal appeal. The figures tend not to make eye contact with one another; they look away, do not overtly connect, suggesting a subtle tension or deep emotions beneath the surface.
Over the years, Shanti has developed a distinctive approach to the watercolour medium. The paintings are created slowly and meditatively, over a long period, on thick, textured paper which, through sturdy application and scraping, soaks up the pigment. Colour is loaded onto the surface, building up wash upon wash, and colours are mixed there, rather than on a palette. This method gives the colours fresco-like depth and intensity. Paint does not simply sit on the surface but permeates the entire thickness of the paper and becomes a vibrant part of it.
He has been artist-in-residence at the British Museum, the Harris Museum in Preston and the Winsor & Newton Art Factory in London. He has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions in Britain and abroad. These include, 'Shanti Panchal: The Windows of the Soul' at Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham and Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham, and touring, and 'Shanti Panchal: A Personal Journey', a British Council touring exhibition in India, among many more.
His work is in many private and public collections, including Arts Council England, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, The British Museum, and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. In 1989 The Imperial War Museum commissioned his painting The Scissors, The Cotton and the Uniform, and in 2012 also acquired his painting The Boys Returned from Helmand for their Collection. The Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Collection, London, have recently added Shanti's work to their collection.