‘Every artiste needs a certain amount of destruction'

A sense of dark romanticism underlines artist Jogen Chowdhury's metaphorical paintings. He tells Nicole Dastur how painting has inspired the artist and poet in him.

“Art is subjective; it can never disclose what the artist is really trying to say. It's all about how one perceives a work — as long as it makes you think — and feel — it has served its purpose,” says artist Jogen Chowdhury, who has been painting since over 40 years. That explains why metaphors and allegories form the essence of his works. “I transform day-to-day events into a pictorial universe in my paintings. However, it's not just one incident that influences me, it's the totality of a situation that I try to re-create,” he explains, continuing, “It's not a singular character, but the characterisation of a particular group of people that I capture in my works.” One can't help but notice a ‘dark romanticism' underline his works. Could that be due to the fact that the Partition of 1947 had influenced him during his growing-up years? “Certainly. Those were difficult times, but every artiste needs a certain amount of destruction to let his creativity flow. As they say, only a destroyed lover can write soulful poetry.” And those ‘destructive' times inspired not only the artist in Chowdhury, but also the poet in him. “I put onto paper, as I did onto canvas, the human expressions that came out of that period.” But despite his subjective approach towards art, he pays plenty of attention to detail. “The texture and tonal quality of a painting plays an important role in exposing the feel of a work of art,” he says. Ask whether he feels the West is far better when it comes to art, and he poignantly disagrees, “India has a cultural and artistic tradition. And today, young talent is surfacing, the art market is vibrating. India cannot be compared to the West, we are markedly different from them. But it's good that we are constantly evolving. The only factor that is limiting our progress is our economic condition. Creatively, we are already there.”

Times of India - Mumbai
05 Jul 2006

A Jogen Chowdhury Painting

Jogen Chowdhury