Figures in motion: Jatin Das

Celebrated Indian figurative painter Jatin Das extends his oeuvre in his latest exhibition. FRANCIS H D’SA attempts to unveil the painter behind the artist in a ringside view. Once upon a time 30 years ago, celebrated painter and Padma Vibhushan  Jatin Das from Odisha, fondly referred to as Jatinda, had a dream which was to create a sensitivity for art and aesthetics through his art that would reach art and architectural colleges, museums, public forums and the laity.

He has been painting since 60 years and has held 68 solo shows in India and abroad. He works with oil, water colour, ink, graphics and conte. Speaking about his exhibition ‘figures in motion’ the master painter says, “My works are not narratives, they are without embellishments and devoid of time and place. They are just bare figures, simply earth bodies, free and alone.”

Observing the maze of free flowing figures one wonders what was drawn first, the swash or the outline?
The exhibition is divided into three sections– oil and acrylic paintings, water colour, and ink, and conte on paper.
In all his works, there exists power, freedom, control and absolute mastery over the mediums. Like the painter himself said, “I am a painter wanting to be an artist and the journey is still on.” In 1987 celebrated poet Dom Moraes said of his work, “When his hand freezes imprecise image and inks form. His world slowly turns to ice melting in each direction towards a truth few can face the horror and happiness of creation.”

Tarana khubchandani, owner of Gallery Art & Soul, and the one who put the show  together, who has had a long association  with Jatinda’s work, adds, “A point of fascination for me is Jatinda’s inexhaustible energy, vitally evident in his  sweeping strokes and  colour block canvasses and his unending affair with his world of human figures.”
To understand  Jatin Das ” figures in motion” is to understand the legend himself….his preoccupation stems from a deep seated and honest interest that becomes synonymous with all his interactions, seemingly effortless, because of the sparse use of strokes. JD’s world is lushly inhabited with dancers, their limbs suspended to music and their gestures immortalised on canvas. This silent melody pervades every work regardless of the medium. He deftly captures them in his graphics, drawings and watercolours. Deceptively calm, probably through his choice of colours, Jatinda’s watercolors pulsate with life, bringing this melody in the realm of their foreground, as his figures continue to weave and spin through him.”

His 69th exhibition continues to pull in the crowds who for a change concentrated on the art and not on the hors-de-ouvres. Present at the show also were senior gallerist/curator /writer Niyati Shinde and prolific painter Deepak Shinde (husband) who had this to say, “He’s a fine artist. I love his drawings. I love the narration that comes through. His lines are lyrical as they are emotive. He’s been working steadfastly for decades, is committed to his work and ideologies and has been philanthropic in promoting culture over the years. His swash technique appears before his lines here.”


Another painter present here, Dattatraya Padekar. At 76, after 68 one man shows, signs of by saying, “What you see here is only the tip of the iceberg!”

Way to go Mr Das!!

(Jatin Das exhibited at the Jehangir Art Gallery, in Mumbai)