Veteran artist Jatin Das does not exhibit too often or talk about his work. But this month art enthusiasts will have the rare opportunity to experience a retrospective of Das’ finest works: a lifetime of paintings on canvas and paper, drawings in conté and ink, watercolours, sculptures, graphics, terracotta, ceramic and porcelain platters, pinch toys; as well as his poems and insights about art and life. Six decades of his life as an artist.
The exhibition, titled ‘Jatin Das – A Retrospective: 1963-2023’, is at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, from the 8th of November to the 7th of January 2024. It is a celebration of the 82-year-old Padma Bhushan recipient, who is widely regarded as one of India’s eminent contemporary artists.
The exhibition was inaugurated on November 7, 2023 by various dignitaries such as Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan, the great Sarod Maestro, Raghu Rai, eminent photographer, Dr. Karan Singh, the Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and its first Governor, Shri Amitabh Kant, senior Bureaucrat and G20 Sherpa, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, eminent filmmaker, Balan Nambiar, Madhavi Parekh and Manu Parekh, eminent artists, Ambassador of Sweden, Director of French Institute, Madhavi Mudgal, eminent Odissi dancer, Laila Tyabji, craft activist, Taslima Nasrin, the famous Bangladeshi Writer and many others across different fields.
Das is originally from Mayurbhanj, Odisha. At 17, he went to study at the Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai, which inaugurated its art gallery with a solo show of Das’ paintings. He lived in Mumbai for ten years, setting up his studio in 1959 at the Bhulabhai Memorial Institute, alongside the studios of artists like MF Hussain and Vasudeo Gaitonde. He then moved to Delhi, where he has lived ever since.
In the past 60 years, Das has held over 80 one-man shows around the world, and has represented India at the Venice and Tokyo Biennales, among many other exhibitions. He paints primarily in oil, ink and watercolour, and draws with conté. He is known for his poetic and primal depiction of human figures that appear to be simultaneously still and in motion, beyond time and place. His large 7x68ft mural, ‘The Journey of India: Mohenjo-Daro to Mahatma Gandhi’, is at the Old Parliament in New Delhi. Apart from his paintings and drawings, Das is also known for working with all kinds of mediums.
Das founded the JD Centre of Art in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, as a space to preserve and exhibit classical, modern, traditional and folk art all under one roof. The Centre, that’s under construction, will house his 40-year collection of modern art, antiques, handicrafts, textiles and art books.
Speaking about the retrospective at the NGMA, Das said: “This retrospective was long overdue. It was not easy to make a selection for the show. What you see is only the tip of the iceberg. I got the chance to distance myself and view the works as a viewer. I struggle with the dichotomy that I live on the sale of my paintings, but I do not paint to sell. I am almost 83, and have been working for over 60 years. How time has escaped from my hands! I am a painter wanting to become an artist. And to be an artist, you need two or three lives. One life is not enough.”
Director, NGMA, New Delhi, Ms. Temsunaro Jamir Tripathi said: “Jatin Das, a solitary wanderer of artistic realms, transcends the ordinary with his eccentric visions. His creative genius remains timeless and relevant. Like a true artistic sage, Jatin Das paints the world through the lens of his unique perception, crafting masterpieces that dance to his own rhythm.”
Words Platform Desk