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A yogi whose raison d'etre was art. A devotee to art. A painter. A photographer. A sculptor. An origamist. A philosopher,
Words fall short to capture this kalamaharshi.
Born on 2 Oct., 1912 and named "Kaikhusru". Called 'Keki' lovingly by his mother. And later on became popular by the very name 'Keki'.
After graduating from Wilson College , Mumbai, his desire to become an artist led him to study commercial art at Bennet College Of Fine Arts, Sheffield in England from 1936 to 1938. Honorary membership of the Royal Society of Art of Great Britain was conferred on him. He continued his quest by visiting America, Japan, Switzerland & Russia studying art and visiting various art exhibitions.
Coming back from England, he settled in Chalisgaon, Dist. Jalgaon, Maharashtra State. There he devoted his entire life to photography. He imprisoned himself in the company of music, art and photography from 1940 till his death in 1989.
Keki began his artistic life not as a photographer, but a painter- a passion that stirred him from early childhood. In those days, paper used for oil painting had to be nd imported. Because of 2 world war he couldn't get those papers. But his inner restlessness didn't let him remain quiet. Then he started painting on tin. Thus, he created 'Greedy Leopards', 'Forest', 'Umar Khaiyam', 'Stormy Weather', 'Nature', 'Shakespeare's Cottage', etc. He used to paint on various objects like earthen & ceramic pots, gramophone records, aluminum wares. Then he inclined towards photography and devoted his whole life to it. He was an outstanding representative of a generation of artists who transformed photography into a recognized art form. He was particularly fond of Table Top photography. He created masterpieces like 'Winter' which was international prize winner, 'Morning', 'Spilt Milk', 'Arise Oh Master', 'Portrait of Nehru', 'Famine' & many more.
He also created portraits that delve deep into the emotion of each individual, searching with the experienced eyes of the artistic lensman. For him preparation was the prescription for perfection . The precise lighting, the exact expression and the aura of originality has graced his photographs. His portraits include 'Balgandharva (Natsamrat)', 'The Witch', 'Echoes of Bengal', Portrait of his mother, 'Balam Porter' which was awarded the special prize by The Royal Society of Great Britain, 'Bharati', 'Beauty and the Beast'( portrait of the famous writer Mrs. Kamala Phadke), 'Purnima', 'Dr. Karve', 'Pampusheth', etc. He also depicted some miscellaneous photographs like 'Rider' and 'Thirsty' which were awarded first and second prizes respectively by Kodak.
For table top photography he needed different models. To create these models he did sculpting, wood cutting, clay modeling, origami and mastered them all. He made nearly 5,000 models of origami. He was an excellent player of Sitar.
He was also fond of collecting books & made library of his own. He had collected near about 4000 books. He had a good collection of books of poems of various poets. Keki loved poetry. He was a fan of Urdu poetry.
He was interested in music. He had collected many types of cassettes & gramophone records. He had collected art pieces of other artists, woodcarvings, statues & antiques, bone china utensils, rare old crockery, toys, old furniture, coins. All of his photographs and collection has been preserved and displayed at Shrimati Piroja Manekji Moos art gallery and cultural center at Chalisgaon.
He also had inclination towards writing.He had written 'when I shed my tears', which was unpublished autobiography. Keki was too much influenced by Rembrant V. He translated his story of life & art in Marathi & Gujarati. He changed the name of his Bungalow as 'Rembrant Retreat' in place of 'Ashirwad'. India's well-known personalities like Pandit Nehru, Vinoba Bhave, Baba Amte, Jaiprakash Narayan, Sane Guruji, Pt. Mahadev Shastri Joshi, Maharshi Anna Saheb Karve, Hari Narayan Aapte, Prof. N. S. Phadke, Shri. M. Mate, Acharya Atre were some of his admirers.
Maharashtra State Board For Literature & Culture, Mumbai, has published a book - Keki Moos Life and Still Life, a photographic portfolio of Keki Moos, in his honour.