Showcasing a series of ink paintings done by artist Jatin Das during the lockdown in the wake of a mass migration of labourers across Indian cities, Exodus 2020 is a look back at how the pandemic changed the world in many ways
Das looks at the fragility of human existence in these challenging times. Captured in Ink on paper, in his signature style, the artist sensitively looks at the struggle, the poverty and the experience of migrant workers in urban India.
“Like everyone else, I was stuck at home for more than six months. I barely stepped out. What I missed the most was going to my studio, where I work from morning to late evening. Instead, I spent most of my time cooking and cleaning. But I was restless at home. I had two hundred odd acid-free paper, some ink pots and lots of brushes. So I began painting. What appeared in the newspapers and television, and what I had observed over the years, all spontaneously came pouring out. And that is how the series was born, which I have named Exodus 2020,” says Das.
The inspiration for his work has always come from the working class. Those who make roads, lay bricks, paint high rise buildings. Hundreds and thousands of them had to walk bare feet, some on cycles, and others atop buses, without fearing the scorching sun, without food and water. They went with their little belongings, tucked under their arms, or on their heads. His works capture their plight.
The paintings depict men and women carrying their children on their shoulders, in baskets, in their tired arms, quietly walking, through days and nights, non-stop. Normally, Das paints figures, who are bare-bodied, beyond any specific context of time and place. He doesn’t have any other elements of clothing, architecture, foliage or animals, or anything that would localise it. But this is a special series, a response to these troubled times.
“The year 2020 and the ongoing pandemic completely changed the world. Through this series, we gain an insight into the struggles of people who form a very important part of our society. We are exhibiting a selection of 50 works from the series in our show. Personally, the way the artist has responded to the exodus of 2020 has moved me. I wanted to bring this series to the forefront and share this archive of paintings that documents the whole urban migrant labour experience,” Sunaina Anand, Director, Art Alive Gallery.
The exhibition is on display at Art Alive Gallery till March 15