India Art Week is round the corner- 30th Jan. to 2nd Feb’20. Capital’s art galleries are busy playing up to the hype. Amidst all this Gallery Art Motif is currently (20th Jan-15th Feb’20) exhibiting ‘The Art of Hand Painted Textiles’ by Ajit Kumar Das which is a sell-out (with just 2-3 paintings left to go) within a day or two of its preview. Its interesting to note in times of economic crisis such art sales.
Calling attention to the history of hand painted regional textiles in India Jain Patas, Phad, Pichwais and Kalamkari have evolved dramatically. This 63 year old artist was born into a family of dyers and washermen in Tripura. With no formal art training he is now a master of natural dyes. His work spans four decades of explorations on textiles with traditional ‘kalam’ (a hand crafted bamboo reed) and block printing. Through discerning observations he made use of intricate botanical drawings, animals and birds, tantra symbols, bold colors and calligraphy; making traditional textile arts of the Indian subcontinent his own.
Exposed to painting at 23, at an export house in Kolkata, West Bengal, the keen learner but to move on to Weavers’ Service Centre to earn a living during the early 80’s unrest in the country. There he was inspired and encouraged by artist Riten Mazumdar, textile revivalist the late Martand Singh, Ajrakh legend Dr. Ismail Mohamed Khatri, Kalamkari expert Padmasree Sri Gurappa Chetty, Tansukh Mahicha, K. Rajavelu, Goutam Vaghela, and K.V Chandramouli, natural dye master C Chandramouli and the educator K G Subramanyan.
Being a recipient of the Government of India’s National Award in 1987, Das’ works have been exhibited globally, including Late Martand Singh noteworthy Vishwakarma series in London, 1980s. Part of important institutional and private collections, his art can also be found in the permanent collection of Victoria and Albert Museum, London, National Crafts Museum, Delhi, Royal Ontario Museum, Canada, at the World Bank’s New York office and UNDP, Delhi.
After retiring from Weavers’ Service Centre, Kolkota, the thin frail yogic personality exhaustively studied natural dyes. Mayank Mansingh Kaul a textile historian and writer elucidates “Das’ practice is particularly noteworthy for extending the understanding of Kalamkari — conventionally associated with painting using a kalam or bamboo reed and natural dyes in Andhra Pradesh — beyond its community-oriented, regional identity, as an individual art form in its own right.”
Images of ‘The Art of Hand Painted Textiles’ By Ajit Kumar Das can be viewed on Gallery Art Motif website or through a brochure on request by contacting the owner +91 9810133045 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.