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Life on canvas

Life on canvas
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The adage, some artists are born while others are made, perfectly describes Jiten Hazarika. The man calls himself a self-taught artist who observes things around him, pours his heart into the subject and then produces the work.

Hazarika decided to chuck his job at Corps of Engineers, Indian Army in 1990 to devote himself full time to art. He specialises in figurative art. ‘I mainly portray human (female) forms since I have a liking for soft delicate feelings existing in the world, and women as a subject fit the bill perfectly. My paintings aim towards the upliftment of the fairer sex,’ says Hazarika.

Born in Assam in 1936, Hazarika graduated in civil engineering in 1963 and was commissioned as a serviceman a year later. Over the years, his deep interest in art coupled with his childhood in rural Assam incited Hazarika to pursue painting.

‘While on my job, I read a quote stating ‘I love my job but hate my work’. This had a sort of cathartic effect on me. It was at this point that I gave up everything and went into art. Over the years, I have no regrets and feel much more happier than before. The conflict between mind satisfaction and soul satisfaction has been resolved as I have achieved the latter (elusive) state,’ says Hazarika.

The 76-year-old has defied all limitations, be it physical or parental pressure, to pursue his love for art and has produced more than 3,000 artworks till date. ‘I devote eight hours in a day to paint and prefer to work at night. As the whole world sleeps, I am awake to derive peace and ideas to dedicate myself,’ says Hazarika.

His present exhibition, A life in Pictures, held in the Capital recently received a subdued response. With each painting costing between Rs 90,000 to Rs 5 lakhs, Hazarika feels the feedback is far more satisfying than the cost incurred. ‘Each month I get a pension of Rs 45,000 for my sustenance. Plus all my children are settled so I hardly have any responsibility. My mission presently is just to paint as I am useless without painting,’ adds Hazarika.

The painter’s artwork has travelled to every major city in India. He has held over 20 solo exhibitions in New Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Calcutta, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and several other cities. His exhibition of paintings in the American Museum of Fine Arts, Browns Ville, Texas, in 2005, earned major appreciation.

‘Art as a subject is still a luxury of the affluent class. It has not received its due yet because an individual’s lifetime just goes into the struggle for attaining roti, kapda aur makaan. Considering this scenario, I feel its completely justified for an artist to sell of his passion (art). Even an artist has to survive and pay the bills,’ quips Hazarika.

The man who affirms that one can a learn a language but never how to write a poem, believes art is a medium for salvation. ‘Practising art is a great meditation exercise for me. It’s my road to emancipation and moksha,’ concludes Hazarika.
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