I am 67. I have been working for 51 years. How time has escaped out of my hands! Enough sweat and blood has flowed under the bridge. Struggled all the way and the struggle is still on. I am a loner.

Originally from the Princely state of Mayurbhanj in Orissa, I went to Bombay at 16. From fish and rice to fish and chips at the Wayside Inn and developed a taste for coffee at Bomballes. Both these cafés are gone. I studied in Bombay at JJ under Palsikar. Spent ten years in the city. Have been in Delhi now for almost 40 years. From the east, to the west coast and now four decades in Delhi, the circle is complete.

I draw with conté and ink, I paint with oils. Sometimes I work with acrylic for vengeance! I have used water colour every day for the last 12 years since my visit to Bali. I had started painting with oil there but it remained soggy and I I switched over to water colour. Spoiled many acid free sheets of paper. Then I tamed the wild water and stopped its spreading.  Now the leash is in my hands. I engrave on metal and occasionally do etchings, lithographs and serigraphs. I love engraving drypoint, sculpted on naked copper plate. I also love working on a large scale. I have done quite a few murals, welded steel sculptures. The very first I did was eleven years ago at a Bhilai Steel Plant city roundabout. I indulged myself, like a child in a toy shop, and did a 30ft high instillation, a cluster on a roundabout which might be a traffic hazard! Dom Moraes titled it Flight of Steel. Since then, I have done other steel sculptures, now with more restraint.

Painting is great fun, but exhibiting them can be very boring and cumbersome. Besides, exhibitions in our country are held for such a short duration that the amount of trouble one takes for mounting, framing, photographing, cataloguing, packing, unpacking... it just doesn’t seem worth it. But when you don’t exhibit, people ask , “are you still painting?” Other than cutting grass I also sweat in my studio everyday! Hence this exhibition.

I have never painted for a show. I work and whenever I decide to have a show. I select a body of work that I want to exhibit. This show comprises of oils, acrylics, water colours and Conte drawings. There is no theme to the show. I have titled it Earth Bodies. My works are not narrative, they are not factual, they have no reference whatsoever and are not bound by time and place. They are simply earth bodies, free and trapped, at the same time.

I exhibit very little now. But I work everyday. I don’t use words like creativity, mood and inspiration. I simply paint. Everyday I feel like I am starting to paint.

Jatin Das

Bombay, November 2007

© 2020 by Jatin Das