Ila Pal's Books

Me / About myself:

During my childhood and youth, I saw my parents; both educators, work towards goals, which nurtured many lives, many values. Poets, writers, saints, educationists and social reformers were forever visiting out homes; living with us; influencing our lives. Participation was the key, but my childhood remained restless.

To keep the family rooted to the Indian soil, my parents adopted a village in Gujarat and for many decades the lives of those villagers and ours got closely linked. Our home in Bombay often became an extension of the village, what with disparate people ranging from ex-convicts to illiterate oppressed widows to boys in search of opportunities, coming and living under the same roof!

The surfeit of people however, created in me an acute need to move away – to an uncluttered place – myself. I grew up with two distinctly different sides to my personality; one turned towards society and the other eager to establish a direct connection with nature. This is where I felt most happy. Even as a three year old my parents recollect my getting lost in woods, talking to birds and trees. My love for landscapes lies in this very intimate connection, which I established early in my life.

In being alone, I also fulfilled certain creative needs, which were ascertaining themselves already. At one stage I felt that if I pursued I could be a painter, writer, singer; anything I wanted to be. (No, not dancer). During the time I did my bachelors and then Masters in Psychology, I was painting furiously, winning college and university prizes and writing poems and short stories. Yet it was only after I met M.F. Husain, and worked with him that I made my final choice; to pursue painting with single mindedness.

Biography of Ila Pal

Born in Mumbai in 1939, Ila Pal obtained a master’s degree in Clinical and Educational Psychology from the University of Bombay in 1961. A self-taught painter, Ila studied briefly at J.J. School of Arts and worked with the renowned artist M. F. Husain before she had her first one-man show in 1962. She has had numerous solo shows since, besides participating in many prestigious group shows. She is a recipient of a Silver Medal and a Diploma at the International Exhibition of Women Artists. The Museum of Modern Art, Paris.

In1994 Harper Collins published her first book ‘Beyond the Canvas’a biography of M.F.Husain. Her second book ‘Returning …An Indian Odyssey’, published by Pilgrim Publishers was released in April 2006 and has won immense critical acclaim.


  • Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai: 1966, 89.
  • Chemoulds Art Gallery 11963, 1975, 1978
  • Washington Art Association, Connecticut, U.S.A: 1975.
  • Clarksville Galleries, New York, 1976, 78.
  • Maxmueller Bhavan, Hyderabad: 1979.
  • Sarla Art Centre, Madras, 1979.
  • Galleria 1991
  • Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai: 1962, 63, 67, 91 and 1999.
  • Taj Art Gallery, Mumbai: 1963, 64, 68, 69, 71, 74.
  • The Indian Express Gallery 1996
  • Vadehera Art Gallery, New Delhi: 2000
  • CCMB, Hyderabad, 2000
  • Gallery Art Celebrations New York: 2004
  • Time & Space Gallery, B’lore 2007

In 1996, The Indian express group of papers invited her to show her satirical paintings titled ‘The Nation above all’ portraying the political landscape of the nineties.

Award: Silver medal and a Diploma at the International Exhibition of Women Artists, The Museum of Modern Art, Paris

Significant group participation:

  • ‘Four Contemporaries ‘Kunika Art Centre New Delhi in association with Gallery Chemoulds featuring Nasreen Mohmmedi, Ila Pal, Jayant Parikh and Vinodrai Patel & in Bombay featuring Nasreen Mohmmedi, Ila Pal, Laxman Shrestha, and Vinodrai Patel
  • International Exhibition of women Artists, Museum of Modern Art. Paris
  • The second Representative Exhibition organized by The Taj Art Gallery featuring Hebbar, Badri Narayana, Chavda, Prafulla Joshi and Ila Pal
  • Andhra Pradesh Lalit Kala Academy, annual show
  • ‘Splash of Colors’ U.S.I.S, Chennai.
  • Ink drawings and etchings shown at an exhibition ‘Private Collections of U.S.A.’ Washington Art Centre, New York
  • ‘Ideas and Images. ‘The National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.
  • ‘50 years of Art in Mumbai.’ The National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
  • Inaugural show ‘Husain ki Sarai’ at Faridabad, organized by Vadehera Art Gallery
  • Special invitee for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations Art Exhibition, Jehangir Art Gallery
  • Anniversary Show: Shatipath, Tao Art Gallery
  • Inaugural show of Gallery Time & Space, 2003, Bangalore
  • Many charitable organizations and auction houses including Sothbeys have auctioned her works.


  • National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
  • The Ministry of Culture, France
  • Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad
  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
  • Jammu and Kashmir State Museum, Srinagar.
  • Husain Sankalan, Bangalore
  • Le Bureau du counseil Municipale. Paris.
  • New York University, New York.
  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai.
© 2009 Ila Pal