Sitting on a pavement that leads to HSR Layout, 26-year-old Jai Singh Rathod experiments with two-dimensional textures. Against amber skies, as he adds finishing touches to a sculpture of Buddha, he also contemplates ways to highlight the organic appeal of his artwork.
Seated amidst hordes of colourful masks and vases, the artist creates warm tones with a palette of rich creams and contrasting colours.
“My brother, Harish, makes all the sculptures from scratch and I paint them. I have been doing so for the past 12 years. We primarily work with terracota. Art is my life. I cannot imagine doing anything else,” said Rathod who sits on the footpath selling his artwork from 10 am to 7 pm.
Hailing from the mystic hills of Mount Abu, Jai Singh and his brother came to Bangalore to pursue a career in art a few years ago. Their interest in art was further nurtured by their brother-in-law who gave them a few tips on mastering the nuances of terracota art. Using multiple layers of metallic pigments, each of Jai Singh’s works have smooth textures ranging from matte to metallic finish. “Initially, I started painting on broken pots or whatever I could lay my hands on. I used to sit on a footpath in Agara but soon changed my spot to HSR layout. I often try to play around with different tones and textures, and use everything from oil paints to gold powder and varnish. I don’t have a particular style. My tryst with art began quite a few years ago. On one of his trips to Bangalore, my father along with his friend Kuppuswamy visited Chitrakala Parishath and bought us a book on terracota art. We never really had any professional training and pretty much learnt everything on the move,” said Rathod.
On a quick glance, one notices portable easels, paint and varnishes kept in the corner of his ‘studio’, a small dingy room made of aluminium sheets on the roadside.
The artist says that he is happy with his work being displayed on the pavement and doesn’t wish to open a store in the near future. “It has been days since I have gone home. I usually pass out in this room. Art gives me the opportunity to be lost in myself. I often find myself being in a state of trance when I paint. I can’t leave anything unfinished. In the future, I would like to do my best to promote art forms from places like Rajasthan, Kutch and Pokara which never get noticed,” said the artist. Not revealing much about the price of his artworks, the artist said that he sincerely believes that art is timeless and cannot have a price. “We can’t put a price on art. Every piece of art is valuable. I make enough to feed my family and that’s all that matters. In fact, I would like my son to pursue a career in art too,” said Rathod.