When I look at an empty canvas or a bare sheet of paper, I feel I am starting to paint or draw for the first time. It is important to learn, unlearn, reflect and then do what the inner mind says. When I begin to draw or paint, there is an intimacy, a purity. The concepts, ideas and themes in my work are personal. My convictions, concerns and commitments are rooted in my culture, yet they don’t define me. When the work finishes, I become a viewer. It must stand on its own merit and strength, or else go into the bin. It was not easy to make a selection for the retrospective show. I introspected and took stock of my lifetime’s work. What you see is only the tip of the iceberg. I find mounting a show boring and tiring, that’s why I exhibit less. The dichotomy is 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. Jatin Das
For six decades, Jatin Das has defined his inner space as only he knows it—with empathy, passion, colour, anguish and yearning. It is steeped in his love for life and all things in it. His spirit is that of a seeker, an observer, who distils the essence of people, places and objects and pours them all out in his art. To curate his work with a common thread is like forcing a dogma, a pattern. Yet, it all comes together, like an ensemble, a symphony, an alchemy of art. Das has carved for himself a distinctive path, central to which are his human figures—iconic and primal—with a life of their own. His figures are simultaneously still and in motion, deeply spiritual and intrinsically sensual, reflective as well as dynamic. They are beyond time and place, embedded in their own aura. A figurative artist, who can paint anything else with the same flourish and embrace any medium with no fear of the unknown. For him, the journey matters, and his own judgement of his work. The rest is incidental. Nandita Das & Siddhartha Das
Exhibition Design Team
Curation: Nandita Das & Siddhartha Das
Exhibition Design: Siddhartha Das Studio
Administration & Creative Support: National Gallery of Modern Art
The book encapsulates the journey of the artist Jatin Das right from his student days at the JJ School of Arts in Mumbai in the 1960s to his most latest works created using various media like oil, acrylic, conté, ink, watercolour, metal, clay, terracotta, ceramic and porcelain.
The book can be ordered from the Art Shop in the New Wing at the National Gallery of Modern Art.
Jatin Das is a painter, poet, sculptor, muralist, print-maker, cultural expert and recipient of the Padma Bhushan. Born in 1941 in Mayurbhanj, Odisha, he studied at Sir JJ School of Art, Bombay. Since then, Das has held over 80 one-man shows and participated in numerous global exhibitions and artist camps, including representing India at the Venice and Tokyo Biennales. Das’ works are primarily in oil, watercolour, ink and conté. He has done several sculptures, graphics, murals and installations and as a printmaker, many etchings, dry points, lithographs and serigraphs.He is also a member of the Poetry Society of India, New Delhi. Das has been a visiting professor at several universities in India and abroad, and has been awarded the D.Litt. by reputed institutions. His works have been featured in many public and private collections, and auctioned by major international auctioneers. His large (7x68ft) mural is at the old Parliament in New Delhi. Das is the Founder Chairman of the JD Centre of Arts in Bhubaneswar, a space dedicated to preserving and exhibiting classical, modern, tribal and folk art all under one roof. The Centre, which is under construction, will house his 40-year collection of modern art, antiquities, handicrafts and art books, along with a selection of his private collection of 6,000 hand fans from around the world. Das’ recent exhibitions include Exodus 2020, a series of 200 ink paintings about the mass migration of labourers during the Covid-19 lockdown, and Prakruti Purush, held in Ahmedabad and Mumbai in 2022. The Retrospective Show of his lifetime’s works will be at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, from the 8th Nov 2023 - 7th Jan 2024.