Odisha’s Jatin Das to exhibit 500 portraits at Lalit Kala Akademi

New Delhi: Eminent artist Jatin Das is all set to exhibit a staggering 500 portraits — many of which have never been on display before — at Lalit Kala Akademi here.

The exhibition “Jatin Das: Artists & Friends. Over Fifty Years” will be presented from Friday and will run till November 22.

Portraits have always been an important part of Das’s artistic practice from sketching prolifically as a student at the Sir JJ School of Art to those of friends and passersby throughout his career — from artists Bhupen Khakhar, Souza and Krishen Khanna to photographer Raghu Rai and poets Dom Moraes and Gulzar — the diversity in sitters and variety of medium lends a fascinating insight into his work.

“I grew up in Bombay. All artists, young or old, always did portrait sketches of friends in between work, over a drink; sketches on starched napkins at Sea Lounge. This was a regular practice of artists of the yesteryears… today many artists don’t sketch and some think doing a portrait is academic,” Das said in a statement.

The portraits in oil, watercolour, conté and ink will also be presented in a catalogue of the show.

“In the last 60 years and before, I recall doing portraits of my close friends, even in my early days at Mayurbhanj. My studio was in Shahpur Jat, next to my residence and 3 years back it shifted to Mehrauli, behind the 11th Century Qutub Minar. My assistant, Aalap Shah, an artist in his own right from Ahmedabad, found hundreds of portraits during this move.

“They were in oil, watercolour, ink and conté. Many were surprises for me, like that of Ram Kinker Baij and Kumar Gandharva. Aalap planted the idea of a portrait exhibition and I got excited! I now have 700 sketches, done over 50 years, that are mounted and ready. And my dear friend, Pradip Das Gupta has photographed them. For the first time in my life I am cataloguing, archiving, and looking at my work done over all these years,” added the eminent artist. (IANS)

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