Dasgupta in 2011
|Born||Jahar Lal Dasgupta
31 May 1942
Jamshedpur, British India
|Education||Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan|
|Awards||Paricharan Sarkar Memorial Award|
Jahar Dasgupta (born in Jamshedpur in 1942) is an Indian painter. In 1960 he was admitted to Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan, the place of Rabindranath Tagore. That was a turning point in his life. In Kala Bhavana, he took his primary lessons under mentors like Nand Lal Bose, Ramkinkar Baiz and Benode Behari Mukherjee. In 1964, he obtained diploma from Kala Bhavana.
His first solo exhibition organized in Birla Academy. His others solo exhibitions took place in Laxmana Art Gallery, Lalit Kala Academy, Chitrakoot, Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta. He exhibited his first solo in abroad in 2004 at Gallery Hansmania (Norway) and later at Club Bangladesh (Sweden). Dasgupta also participated many group exhibitions in different places in India and abroad. His works are exhibited in-group shows like Nandan Art Gallery, Birla Academy, Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta, Jehangir Art Gallery, AIFACS, Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery, India Habitat Centre, Nehru Centre, Lokayata Art, Chemould Art, Mulk Raj Anand Centre and many other places. His paintings exhibited in South Korea, London, Paris and Canada. He was honored at NABC in 2010 at New Jersey. He went for another solo in Singapore at the year 2011.
In 1969, a few kind souls, total seven ex-students of Santiniketan like Jahar and Baroda Art College students came together to form a group named Painters’ Orchestra, now one of the oldest artist groups in India. Since that time Jahar Dasgupta is regular participant in the group shows of this organization and also went for few solos as well. His first solo exhibition was organised in Birla Art and Culture Kolkata, West Bengal. He developed his own style of expression since the beginning of 1970-s after passing through a period of apprenticeship during 1960-s. In this sense he may be categorized as an artist of 1970-s.
End of 1960s and beginning of 1970s was a period of political turmoil. The left movement in the fold of CPI(ML) rose to its peak ushering in deaths and murders in a devastating measure. The Bangladesh liberation war of 1971 also created great commotion. All creative persons were somehow or other affected by these incidents. All these social upheavals had great impact on his creative self. In early phase his paintings often revealed reality in its crudest form. An acrylic canvas of 1994 titled ‘Scrap’ shows clusters of dilapidated human bodies tied together are being pulled up from a crate by a crane. This is only one example. Memories of death, he saw widespread all around, haunted him frequently.
Jahar never tried being repetitive with one fixed subject. He explored with various subjects and style in different forms in respective times. In one side 'End of an Era', 'Genocide', 'Waiting for Godo', 'Dark side of Civilization', Series of 'Confrontation', 'Shelter' are the reflection of anger and crude rebellion. On the other side through 'Mermaid' series, 'Fall of Radhika' series, 'Eternal Love' series, he touch the chord of beauty ingrained in life. His paintings at that time swing between the two aspects of this duality, ideal and the real, good and evil, light and darkness.
In this era, Jahar mainly concentrated on nature, animal and woman in his canvases. The drawings have been mostly done in dry pastel both in monochrome of black and white. The canvases in acrylic open up various aspects of ideal beauty. The widespread nature of rural Bengal reveals its colourful faces. The nature is transformed into supernatural. These paintings narrates full of life, love, spirit, joy and fantasy.
Sandip Ray, young film director from Bengal who filmed Himghar in 1996, met Dasgupta and showed interest for a documentary on artist. Later, in 2001, he completed the documentary named 'Bornomoy Jahar' and screened at Nandan (Kolkata).
While attending a talk entitled ‘Nadir Bhabna’ (Musings of the river) by Shri Alokeranjan Dasgupta, the artist Shri Jahar Dasgupta encountered a mind blowing experience. Acknowledged gratefully by the painter, the inter-face opened for him the doors to the world of Bergson and his revolutionary thinking.
This was his very first acquaintance with the philosophy of the French thinker and evolutionist Henri Bergson (1894–1941). The uplifting spiritual content of Bergson enkindled the thought process of the artist. Shri Dasgupta, with a re-enforced joie-de-vivre, took to his canvas. The present all series and solos is a living tale of the journey. In fact he is the first artist to apply the theory of Bergson into fine art. This is a very rare and unconventional thinking by Jahar where he blends the science and art beautifully into his canvas.
Shri Dasgupta’s creative impulse is enthused by this Aristollean ‘entelechy’ – the endowment that gives rise to the potential of the vital force. This by itself becomes the prime moves of the artist’s imagination. Mutability in the ever-changing milieu ignites the creative artist in him. The wax and wane of the inner physique lights up his vision within. This becomes the woof and warp of his creation. In his depiction of the teeming world of the humans, the birds and beasts and the minutest of insects, he does not change the outward form. The artist in him understands that every moment is changing and leaving the imprint of its transience on the inner mechanism of the body. There by it creates an abstract form within which in its turn is represented with a candid intensity of the artist.
Each piece of painting is an experience anew. Each creation is the quintessential expression of the aesthetic experience that has galvanized the artist’s imagination. Corresponding to the stamp of the fleeting moment, each of his paintings is a unique, move away from the other. The inimitability of each painting speaks volumes of the artist’s involvement with his metaphor. For over a year the tireless effort was on, to translate the thought within, to capture the dynamics of the emerging design into the iridescence of the canvas.
Statements by eminent art connoisseurs
Famous poet Mr. Amitava Dasgupta, recipient of Rabindra Puraskar in 1999 once quoted Jahar as "Diamond and not cut glass". He said, "I have known this self-effacing and very courteous man for a long time. I have observed him in varied situations. In the hustle-bustle of organizational activity and in the privacy of personal loneliness. Through his work, Jahar has tried to draw a bridge between two extremities. A bridge on which aesthetes can come closer and closer to each other. I have had occasions to traverse this colorful cause-way."
Art Critic of The Statesman Mr. Shankar Majumder once wrote in his article that "Jahar’s intention is to draw the viewer away to another plane- a surreal world of dreams and imagination. He succeeds with dexterity."
Eminent artist late Bijon Choudhury was very close to Dasgupta and described him as a socially conscious artist who speaks for common people and there problem.
One of the finest rebellious Bengali poets Shakti Chattopadhyay in 1994, some time before his untimely death, had on some occasion a chance to see Dasgupta’s paintings. He immortalized his reactions in a poem. Dasgupta considers it a great achievement for his creativity. The poet wrote: ‘Welcome oh great soul, have you come down from the woods?’ (“স্বাগত হে মহাপ্রাণ, অরণ্যের থেকে চলে এলে?”). It was then continued like this: ‘Have you come with fierce hunger, have you come with ferocious battle? / Welcome oh great soul, have you come devastating the woods?’ (“তীবরা ক্ষুধা নিেয এলে, অতিশয় যুদ্ধ নিেয এলে / স্বাগতা হে মহাপ্রাণ, অরণয়া উজাড় করে এলে?”). The poet is always a visionary. Chattopadhyay could feel the true spirit of Dasgupta’s paintings. The lines quoted above are reverberated with that feeling. The paintings appeared to him as rebellion against ‘fierce hunger’and ‘ferocious battle’. Dasgupta’s apparent romantic attire is a form of his rebellion.
Very renowned art critic Mrinal Ghosh describe Jahar's paintings with "Reality transformed with an air of fantasy is, in a nutshell, the essence of forms of Jahar Dasgupta."
In the 70s, like many people from art and cultural field in West Bengal, Jahar was among those who attracted to Left ideologies and immediately attached to Gananatya Sangha. He twice stood on Panchayet vote under left wing parties at Madhyamgram North 24 Parganas in 1974 and 1984.
Jahar Dasgupta is honored as a President in Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata where he lives and works.