His Devout Ways

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Artist Manoj Das explains that the fount of his work emerges from his interpretation of Lord Krishna. He will be exhibiting his artworks alongwith other Indian and Vietnamese artists in the city

Painter and sculptor Manoj Das’ body of art work comprises many paintings of Lord Krishna. A Vaishnav, Das is a devotee of Lord Vishnu and has tried to capture his many avatars, Krishna being one. The Midnapore-born artist, who moved to Mumbai in the ’90s, will be displaying his works alongwith other Indian and Vietnamese artists, in an exhibition titled, ‘A Journey Through Art’ at Double Tree by Hilton from July 26. It  is an art experience that brings to limelight some of the interesting works done by various artists from India and Vietnam.

Indian art could mean differently to different people. Das, for instance, believes that it reflects Indian culture, our spiritual and devout lives. Says he, “When we say Indian culture or sanskriti, what comes to my mind is Hinduism. Hinduism, for me, is depicted by our gods. The worshippers and believers make a beeline to ‘Devnagari’ of  Kashi-Varanasi. The ghats of Varanasi resound with the chants, the mantras, the shlokas. I am inspired by their vibrations; I am inspired by the astras that our gods use. In Varanasi, I can immerse myself totally into the pious atmosphere. So a large part of my work comprises paintings of seers, sadhus and Krishna.” 

Das, who started painting when he was 12-years-old, leans towards expressive art. “I don’t sketch. I just work directly with the colours,” he says. On Thursday, the preview night of the show, Das will be doing a live-demo of his painting to the notes of music. The artist has previous experience of this form, when he took to stage with Ustad Zakir Hussain and painted to the beats of the tabla. “Even if you are an accomplished artist, you still have to prove yourself, when you are performing before a crowd. It’s the sense of anticipation, suspense that pushes me to do my best,” he adds.

The painter is also looking at the live-demo as an opportunity to showcase the endless possibilities that art can offer. “I enjoy live paintings, interacting with the audience. It gives me a chance to share with the young and old in the audience that art has a future and a very bright one. I think a painting or an art work has longevity. It can hang on the wall of your home for years to come,” says the artist, who has had 120 exhibitions with Asian Art House. 

Coming to art, Das says all the art forms are co-related, especially art and music. “The saptasur (seven notes of music) and saptarang (seven colours of the rainbow) blend into each other and create an unseen melody, an adrishya taar. Together they become one,” he adds. 

Das, who couldn’t complete his formal art course, has his roots in Bengal art. But he grew to maturity in Mumbai, his karmabhoomi. “The art of Bengal is age old. We are known for our artefacts and idols made from terracotta. My artistic roots are in Kolkata, but I would call it my adolescence art. I matured as an artist in Mumbai. I bond with my artist friends in Maharashtra and I find them deeply spiritual and very open-minded. I had been to Pandharpur and I also created a 21 feet sculpture of Vithoba (an avatar of Krishna) in fibre glass,” says Das, who has also found appreciation from distinguished artists like Amitabh Bachchan, Gulzar Saab and Ustad Zakir Hussain.

“I find a never-ending source of energy and creative stimulus in Krishna. When you discover Krishna, it seems like you have discovered your world,” says Das on a concluding note. 

Doubletree by Hilton Pune Chinchwad in collaboration with Asian Art series is hosting ‘A Journey Through Art’. The hotel will be hosting the preview night on July 26 where artist Manoj Das will create a live painting to music. The exhibition is open to public from July 27-29. This three day art experience features 20 art works by 15 renowned Vietnamese and Indian artists. The exhibition will highlight the artistic learning, philosophy and process of various art forms bringing together the sensibilities of the two countries and their distinct imagery.

From India: Steven Gandhi, Anand Panchal, Anupama Arora, Jayprakash Doma, Aelay Laxman, Srinivas Potelu, Samir Sarkar, Subrata Das and Bhaskar Rao

From Vietnam: Le Hoa, Duc Viet, Vu Dung, Le Phuong, Vu Dinh Cong, Thai Vinh Thanh, Nguyen Quoc Duy, Thanh Son, Vu Co Tien, Minh Du, Phan Van Thanh, Vu Dinh Cong, Duc Viet, Nguyen Thuy, Pham Van Hoan and Quoc Linh

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