It was in 1962, for the first time ever that I travelled out of the country. I lived in Bombay then. I went to Helsinki, a little town in Finland, via Moscow, to attend the International Youth Festival which was followed by a small exhibition of my paintings at Sturen Karto, but didn’t paint there.

 

Since then I have travelled to many nations, large, small, ancient, intimate, and multicultural. All these journeys have been more than one in many ways.

 

I love travelling. I am a Sagittarian. But I don’t like living out of suitcases any more. I have become selective. I would love to travel in a bus to Burma and to interior landscapes of ancient cultures. Modern cities and high rises don’t captivate me.

 

I had the opportunity to represent India in the Venice and Paris Biennale in 1971 & 1978, and also at the first print Biennale in Bradford, England, in ’71. It was during the Venice Biennale that I met Menashe Kadishman, the eminent artist from Israel. Kadishman had exhibited an exhibition of a herd of painted sheep running wild in the gallery. It created a huge sensation. Later, I met him again in 1994 and 1999 in Tel Aviv where we did a workshop together on steel sculptures.

 

Even today whenever I travel out of home, I carry my bag of art material and paper. I set up a makeshift studio wherever I go, whether it’s a hotel room or a friend’s guest room. In some of the places, I had the luxury of a studio space where I could work, while for other trips which were short, I carried back memory images to work in my studio in Delhi.

 

I paint and capture elements that excite me, not just images but the flavour and smell of the place.

 

Many such experiences and exposures during these journeys have subsequently brought about a significant change in figuration and imagery, in a departure from my main direction of work. These journeys have also enriched my understanding of cross-cultural connections.

© 2020 by Jatin Das