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Jatin Das: A Retrospective 1963 - 2023

8 Nov. '23 - 7 Jan. '24. 11am - 6pm
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

 360° Tour

Artist's Note

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

Curators' Note

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.  Siddhartha Das & Nandita Das Curators'

Exhibition Design: Siddhartha Das Studio
Administration & Creative Support: National Gallery of Modern Art

Retrospective Book

The book chronicles Jatin Das’ journey as an artist, from his early days at Sir JJ School of Art, right up to 2023. It has images of all the displayed works in oil, watercolour, conté and ink, and includes graphics, platters, sculptures, small figurines and works from his series of portraits, travels, migrant workers and manhole cleaners. Jatin Das’ insights, experiences and philosophies on art and life are sprinkled throughout the book. Notes and essays by eminent art scholars, such as Elzabeth Rogers, Geeti Sen and Ina Puri and close friends, such as Raghu Rai, Lalit Mansingh and Rajeev Sethi are strong testaments to the artist and his repertoire.  It ends with a timeline that traces his entire life. The book is edited by Nandita Das, an actor, filmmaker, social advocate and the daughter of the artist.


The book can be ordered from the Art Shop in the New Wing at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.

About the Artist

Jatin Das is a painter, sculptor, muralist, print-maker, teacher, cultural expert and recipient of the Padma Bhushan. Born in 1941 in Mayurbhanj, Odisha, he studied at the Sir JJ School of Art in Bombay. Since then, he has held more than 80 one-man shows and participated in numerous global exhibitions. He paints primarily in oil, watercolour, ink and conté. He is also a poet and a member of the Poetry Society of India. Das is a visiting professor at several universities in India and abroad, and has been awarded the D.Litt. by reputed institutions. Das’ works have been featured in many public and private collections, and auctioned by major international auctioneers. His large (7x68ft) mural ‘The Journey of India: Mohenjo-Daro to Mahatma Gandhi’ is at the old Parliament in New Delhi. Das founded the JD Centre of Arts in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, to preserve and exhibit classical, modern, tribal and folk art, all under one roof. He has donated his 40-year large collection of modern art, antiquities, handicrafts, handlooms and art books to it. During the Covid-19 lockdown, he did more than 200 ink paintings about the mass migration of labourers. His concerns continue in his work.

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