Portraying the joyous, cheerful side of life in rich and glorious colours, Heart To Heart, the ongoing exhibition of paintings by Cuttack-based eminent heart surgeon and painter J P Das celebrates life and art in a visual language. A language that can be best described as natural, original and spontaneous.
Yellow, orange, blue and red dominate the works on show, symbolising the bliss and happiness associated with daily life and rekindling emotions that we have all forgotten to experience. Pulsating positive, optimistic thoughts, the life-like forms and figures, along with their vibrant colour schemes, emanate a raw, powerful yet benign energy. Soothing to the eye and appealing to the heart, the colour compositions make a brilliant attempt at blending the real with the ethereal. “I believe bright colours depict the bright side of life,” he reasons.
Around 160 works – sketches, charcoal works, and acrylic paintings – are a part of the Heart To Heart exhibition at the Rashtriya Lalit Kala Akademi and about 80 per cent of them have been created this year. None of his works appear repetitive, though, at a subtle level, there is an invisible common thread running through all of them.
Looking at his paintings, one does not feel as if one is looking at people, objects or landscapes from a fixed point of view. Possessing the rare quality which makes the viewer want to look at his paintings over and over again, his images of women, flowers or landscapes are very realistic without attempting to imitate appearances. In his landscapes too, he clearly deviates from the convention of celebrating nature in its idealised image.
Woman is the subject of many of his paintings on show. “A woman depicts the sensitiveness of art as well as life, so you cannot forget her while doing an art,” says Das, while pointing to a painting done in tawny shades. “This particular painting is of a beautiful woman I knew when she was young and the same person I saw when she died. Her face was pale with wrinkles eclipsing her beauty, depicting what different phases of life do to a human being. I did the painting the day she passed away,” he adds.
Besides, Das has displayed series of works on Buddha, Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi as they, he says, are his favourite subjects. This apart, he depicts day-to-day incidents from life in his sketches and paintings. There are two paintings in the exhibition that depict the devastation following nuclear explosion of Hiroshima on August 6 and of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. “Every year on August 6 and 9, I paint on the nuclear attacks,” he explains.
Das says space is a mobile element in his works; colours merge with his compositions and change the very identity of his images. “To be honest, I have never planned any of my paintings. All the paintings are impulsive and spontaneous, and hence, no piece is a look-alike.”
The cardiologist-cum-painter, however, does not work on large canvasses. Only three of his 160 works in the exhibition are done in medium-size canvasses. “That is because I do not get time from my patients to work on big paintings. Mine are mostly small which can be completed in a day’s time. Each of these works on display has been mostly done in two to three hours. I have used acrylic in most of paintings as it dries fast,” says Das.
Two walls in the gallery have been decorated with his interesting sketches on various topics, ranging from patients in a doctor’s chamber, a quack on the streets to a street in Puri, rickshaw pullers in Allahabad to an evening ‘aarti’ at Haridwar.
“Sketching is a favourite pastime for me; often I wonder how few simple lines convey some meaningful exercise. The lines once drawn are final and in most of the cases, are unplanned. They give an image to my thoughts,” says Das, adding that paintings give him a lot of relaxation from the busy life of a cardiologist. “Most importantly, sketching and painting give me a satisfaction of creation,” says Das, who has been painting regularly after he took voluntary retirement from his job as a faculty in SCB Medical in 1987.
The exhibition that was inaugurated on Friday last week will continue till March 13. On the inaugural day, a book of Das’s sketches and drawings ‘Muse of Heart’ was released.