Let’s get this straight. This is Jatin Das’s workstation and he’ll keep it just the way he wants it. So a few white mugs with brushes dunked in water, large plastic jars and tubes of paint fight for space on a large table in the centre of his room. A small clock, a terracotta lamp and piles of paper snuggle up and the mess is complete.
But as we find our space in his second floor apartment in Shah Pur Jat village, the mess suddenly seems bold— just as bold as his gutsy strokes. “I carry my studio with me. It may seem chaotic, but I know where to find things I want. It’s not very different from a scientist’s laboratory—visitors may find it confusing, but for the scientist, things are kept in perfect order,” explains the artist.
While the room is filled with empty canvases, an easel against the front wall holds a nearly complete canvas that Das is working on. “I don’t like to put my paintings on display. Once I’m done with a canvas, I keep it aside and concentrate on the next work,” he says. That explains the bare walls and the mysterious curtain. It’s behind this that Das hides his finished works.
When Das needs a break from work, he settles in on the low cane chair placed near the door. And when he thinks his ‘laboratory’ could do with some fresh air, he throws open the bay windows that line the wall overlooking the garden. But he also makes sure he shuts them late in the evening. “I can’t allow dust to settle on my canvases,” he says.
At the doorstep: Das is working on his Pankha collection and posters of his previous Pankha exhibitions are pasted on one side of the veranda. At the centre is a lone red Chinese fan from his collection of over 6,000 traditional fans from across the world. “Take out your slippers and leave them here,” urges the artist. “The studio is not a temple, but there is a sanctity attached to the place”.
Muse on the wall: A notice board has his family pictures. There is a black and white sketch of friend and filmmaker Sukhdev, a picture of Das posing with daughter Nandita. Wife Bidisha stands with him in a photograph stuck above a list of must-have numbers, from the electrician to the driver.
Colour corner: The wooden table placed near the easel acts as Das’s extended palette. Next to it is a stand from which his brushes are suspended. Empty canvases are stacked below the table. “No one is allowed to touch this — I don’t want paint spilt on them.”