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‘I aspire to be an artist’

Artist Jatin Das remains unassuming, rubbishes rumours of retirement plans and lets his work speak.

entertainment Updated: Dec 02, 2010 14:58 IST
Shweta Mehta

One would take it for granted that 50 years into his illustrious career, Jatin Das would consider himself to be an established artist. The man, though, has a completely different take. “One is always aspiring to be an artist,” he asserts, adding,“It's a really big word, but people tend to use it very casually.”

In the city for his exhibition, Hand-held Space, Das is displaying works he has done over the past 10 to 12 years and dispels rumours about this being his last solo exhibition. “I’m not dying tomorrow,” he retorts, clearly offended at the mere suggestion.

“I’m often asked about my recent works but then paintings aren’t from the bakery; they aren’t fresh bread. Some people asked me if I’d stopped painting. They had jumped to that conclusion because I hadn’t exhibited for a while,” he says, clarifying, “The idea of an exhibition is not to display them. They are for you to enjoy.”

“This exhibition comprises of several collections of tiny canvases, which can be held intimately and painted, thus the title,” Das explains. So do they follow a theme or tell a story? “My paintings don’t have a theme, but they have a journey,” he says, adding, “They don’t tell a story—people get carried away by stories.” He points to one of his paintings — a woman’s bare body, with her arms visibly missing. “This figure has no hands because the hands are not required!”

Indeed, all of Das’ works follow this belief. “These human figures are bare. There’s no architecture, no clothing, no time and no place. They are people in motion and these are their ideas, concepts, energy and anguish,” he points out.

The artist has also occupied himself by setting up the JD Centre of Art, closer home in Orissa. “I think I’m the only artist in the country who is doing it,” he says proudly. "And it’s the only centre that encourages traditional as well as modern artists.” Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, Pritish Nandy, Lalita Lajmi and Dolly Thakore were part of the launch held on Tuesday.