We click Instagram photos when we travel. From Venice to Rajasthan and Varanasi, leading Indian artist Paresh Maity turns his journeys into art. And he’s back in the city after four years.
We are at the Art Musings gallery in Colaba. Paresh Maity (52) is dressed in green trousers, a tartan coat and a beret. He reminds you of a Parisian artist. His sartorial choices, he says, are a reflection of the artist he is. “It shows my affection for colours. Colour is life,” he says.
Maity’s latest exhibition, Vision into Infinity, is his 80th overall, he says. Yes, he keeps a count. It is also his first exhibition in Mumbai in four years (he has been exhibiting globally in the interim).
On display are 30 large canvases and sculptures, as well as 20 miniatures, sketches and mix media works. “There’s artwork made at every age: from age 12 to 13, till the recent past. And some of these works have never been exhibited in Mumbai,” he says.
Naturally, the artworks show his evolution as an artist. While the initial works are sketches, later watercolour landscapes (“I had no money to buy oil colours in those days”), he also branched out to clay modelling, figurative oil painting (after studying at Government College of Art & Craft, Kolkata) and bronze sculptures.
Growing up in a lower-middle-class home in Tamluk, a city in Midnapore, West Bengal, he admits that the environment was not conducive to art. But he gained inspiration from folk tales and tribal art. “There is something timeless about folk tales. There is an innocence and colour to them, free of preconceived notions.”
His art has elements of Cubism (a style of modern art where perspectives are altered and the focus is on geometrical elements). So, it is not surprising that he mentions Pablo Picasso (the Spanish great invented Cubism) as an inspiration. “Picasso swore by the adage, ‘No day without a line’. That is my philosophy as well. But I work like a tortoise, which is perhaps why I’m exhibiting after so long,” he says.
Recurring motifs in his work are of nature, boats and water bodies. “Growing up, there were lush green fields. And I lived close to the sea. Every civilisation was established close to a water body. And boats were perhaps the first vehicles used.”
A large part of his work is influenced by journeys to Rajasthan, Venice, and Varanasi. “I have sketchbooks from different parts of the world. I sketch in trains, planes, restaurants, under the tree…I keep drawing something,” he says.
Maity is married to artist Jayasri Burman, and through her, is related to artists Sakti Burman and Maya Burman. “There are many artists in our family. It inspires discussion about art, music, photography and culture,” he says.
Vision into Infinity will be shown at various galleries:
At Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda (till February 20); Taj Art Gallery, The Taj Mahal Palace, Apollo Bunder (February 21 to 27); Art Musings, Colaba Cross Lane (February 28 to March 19)