"Frankly I did not even know what art was all about. When I was four, I read a poem written by the Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. In his poem, Tagore had described three birds fighting on a kitchen terrace. I was moved, and gave vent to my emotions on paper. That was my first painting."
Ajay De`s paintings continue to be shaped by his childhood memories. As an introvert, he often found himself at a loss for words, until he discovered the joy of putting pencil to paper to draw and express his feelings. His life, and the experiences that shaped it, were a source for inspiration. "All my paintings reflect the complexities and troubles that besiege modern day society. They are not deliberate efforts. They flow from within. I feel that art offers solutions to all problems in life, and my work offers a direction to these solutions," he explains.
De began his career rather unconventionally, eschewing colour and working on charcoal to convey his experiences on to canvas. "I channelled my energies into artistic expressions and learnt the right way to stroke the paper with my fingers and thumb, and even my palm, while sketching with a charcoal pencil. I believed there was more truth to black and white and that, colour, although appealing, did not pose a challenge. So black and white tones did not deter me, and I was not afraid to swim against the tide. I honed my skills at art colleges, drawing inspiration from my childhood memories, which had left an indelible mark," says De.
On his art, De believes: "Life has left its impressions, and these are portrayed in my drawings. I am still learning and will continue to do so. For this, I am thankful to all those who have helped me, either knowingly or unknowingly, in making me what I am today. My colours emanate from nature. There is a lot one can learn from it. It is sad that, today, man no longer finds time to stand and stare anymore."
Ajay De lives and works in Mumbai, and has exhibited extensively in Mumbai, Bangalore and Calcutta.
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