Bhubaneswar: “Last six weeks in Odisha have been a learning experience,” said well-known ceramic artist, Jag Mehta, who has come to the Temple City for the first time. The artist, now living in Jamaica, is here to display his ceramic work at an exhibition to be held tomorrow morning at Kanti Centre for Art.
The exhibition aims at promoting ceramics in the state and give exposure to the young artists from the city by bringing people from across the globe.
“I had been planning this trip to Odisha since last two years and could finally put the plan into action. Sovan (organizer) had told me a lot about Odisha, and I got to know about his ceramic studio too. I came to Bhubaneswar in January and went to various places like Puri and Konark, attended various dance and music festivals and went around to look at the old temples. I had no idea Bhubaneswar is known as the temple city of India until now. I am a tourist here and what fascinates me the most is the temple architecture and the rich art and culture here,” he added.
With an experience of around 40 years, he said he never had a formal training. “The ceramic work I do has a naked body. I do not use glaze because for doing that you need formal training and need proper knowledge of chemistry. I make all the materials on my own and apply oxides for adding colour to it. I mostly focus on the texture and the thickness.”
In line with Jag Mehta’s thoughts on the popularity of ceramic, Sovan Kumar believes ceramic is yet to find a proper place in Odisha. “Our state doesn’t have any institute offering ceramic courses or teachers as such to guide you. Lalit Kala Akademi is the only place one can practice their ceramic work at. We once had a ceramic studio at Barang but it was closed down in 1983-1985. Odisha has all the raw materials one needs for ceramics but I do not understand what goes wrong,” he expressed.
Sovan further spoke about how the response from public lacks as well, “Ceramic is very expensive for us as artists. The process is lengthy and risky. We have to heat the material in 800-degree Celcius and the material itself is so fragile. People in Odisha do not understand the entire process and compare it to pottery.”
For Jag, the response so far has been great. “At my exhibition in Delhi, people were quite amazed and loved my work. I hope the same happens here,” he expressed.