Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 07:59 UK

Leading Indian artist passes away

One of India's leading artists, Tyeb Mehta, has died in a hospital in the western city of Mumbai.

The 84-year-old painter had been ailing for some time. He had been admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with a chest infection, reports say.

In 2003, Mehta hit international headlines when a Japanese art collector paid $317,500 for a triptych by the artist at Christie's in New York.

At that time, it was the highest priced Indian contemporary painting.

Mehta was a member of a group of influential Indian artists called the Progressive Artists Group to encourage new forms of art.

Set up in 1947 in Mumbai, the group included such leading artists as SH Raza, MF Husain, SK Bakre and Akbar Padamsee.

Last year, one of Mehta's paintings sold at Christie's for a record $1,918, 926.

Born in Gujarat, Mehta began his career as a film editor before joining a professional art course in Mumbai.

Inspired by Picasso, Matisse, Bacon and Kandinsky, a lot of Mehta's work carried Western influences.

"Tyeb Mehta has been like a shining star in the firmament of Indian art," leading artist Anjali Ela Menon told the Hindustan Times newspaper.

"Very much a painter's painter, Mehta had, through his achievements as an artist and also as an amazing human being epitomised the finest values," she said. The artist is survived by his wife and two children.

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