Friday, Jan 27, 2023

Body Paint in ecru

A few furious brushstrokes and firm dabs of paint make human figures,their faces crinkled in agony or apathy,their primal postures even more expressive.

Jatin Das returns with a solo show of his recent works

A few furious brushstrokes and firm dabs of paint make human figures,their faces crinkled in agony or apathy,their primal postures even more expressive. They are Jatin Das’s people. After nine long years,Das is coming up with a solo exhibition of his new works in Delhi. And this time the strokes are fewer and fluid lines seem to unexpectedly come together to form contours. But the people seem alive,still,as though he hastily caught them in action.

The 67-year-old artist says the show was not planned. “I never paint for an exhibition. The gallery was free and a month ago someone suggested that I put up a show since there hasn’t been one in Delhi for quite a few years. I agreed,came to the studio and put together a collection from what I had painted over the past few years,” he says. On the walls,a poster carries a picture of Digambar,an oil on canvas. In the open folds of a cloth that has gathered its colours from the sky,a figure stands,an abstract halo around him,flanked by ecru-coloured man and woman. The earthy shades hint at the title of the exhibition “Earth Bodies”.

When Das put up a solo “Body and Line” in Mumbai in 2007,the police asked him to put up a notice that it was not open to those under 18 years. “Such a thing never happened 20-30 years back. It is a recent phenomenon. But I don’t dress my art,” says Das,glancing at the bare three-headed figure Gyani.

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And don’t look for narratives either. His 2001 retrospective at the Lalit Kala Akademi,“Journeys across Foreign Lands”,chronicled his visits to different countries across the globe,but this time he says he has no stories to tell. “This is work done in the studio. It is open to interpretations,” he says.

While a large body of his work wallows in his studio waiting to be exhibited,his focus at present is the Pankha museum that will display his collection of fans from the world over. “We hope to build the museum in Delhi before the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The government has sanctioned it and we are searching for an appropriate location,” says Das,as he gets back to preparing his mailing list for the forthcoming exhibition. And it is no high-brow party of friends. Posters are being put up in colleges and bookshops. “I want everyone to be present,” says Das. Incidentally,the invite says “Signature label specially designed by the artist for Grover Wine will be served”. “That was for fun,” he smiles. “The owner of Grover Vineyards is a friend and when he asked I gave one drawing for the label!” The show could be intoxicating minus the brew.

The exhibition at India Habitat Centre is on from May 12 to 19

First published on: 08-05-2009 at 00:27 IST
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