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Jatin Das returns to Jehangir Art Gallery with ‘Figures in Motion’

In an exhibition of new and old works, the Padma Bhushan awardee portrays moving human bodies.

mumbai Updated: Oct 06, 2017 19:21 IST
Amanda D’Souza
Amanda D’Souza
Hindustan Times
Jatin Das,Jehangir Art Gallery,Mumbai art exhibition
Jatin Das’s latest exhibition is all about moving bodies.(Raj Salhotra)
Jatin Das Figures in Motion: An exhibition of drawings, inks, watercolours and oils
  • When: 11am-7pm, 4-16 October 2017
  • Where: Jehangir Art Gallery
  • Contact: 2284 3989
  • Entry is free

What is movement? Is it visible evidence of activity or vigorous exercise? Can you find motion in hesitation or even the promise of action?

Artist Jatin Das willingly addresses these questions at Figures in Motion, an exhibition of old and new works at the Jehangir Art Gallery. He depicts motion not merely through intentional gestures, but also through the hint of an act.

An acrylic on canvas, Intimacy, shows two bodies that are moments away from contact. The woman’s hand lingers above her partner’s, while her body remains opposed to this promise of a touch, turned away from it. Couple, another work, features two women sharing a coy secret, bashful of the viewer’s gaze. Das, whose sixty-odd years of painting have earned him a Padma Bhushan, uses his signature style of figure painting to tell of the many ways that movement can be observed and interpreted.

Ever straightforward, Das refuses to anchor his paintings with narrative or other embellishments. The works use sparse lines and colours, almost as though he is a raconteur who tells you only the beginning of a tale and expects you to fill in the gaps.

Jatin Das, 76, is a Padma Bhushan awardee whose signature style is figure painting. (Raj Salhotra)

The artist believes that anyone claiming to understand his work has only a hollow sense of it. “Viewing a painting requires you to lose yourself in it,” he says. “You can’t just idly stare at it once. You have to meet it like you would an old friend.”

This, he admits, is hardly possible in a world where art openings are society events and shows run for no longer than a week. “They don’t allow viewers the solitary time or silence to contemplate the work of art they have encountered,” he says.

In paintings such as Stretched Hands, Das depicts motion not merely through intentional gestures, but also through the hint of an act. (Raj Salhotra)

Das’s idealism is not limited to his work. Unlike his contemporaries, he uses all his profits to fund his dream project, an art centre dedicated to preserving Indian art and heritage, which he founded in his home town of Mayurbhunj in Odisha. “I don’t paint to sell, but to communicate a deeper experience. I always paint as though I am doing it for the first time, and do it like a rasika – passionate and completely immersed.”

First Published: Oct 06, 2017 19:21 IST