Ranjit Das: Psychological narrative
Ranjit Das is distinguished for his peerless style and stimulating themes. He is one of the leading painters from the '70s, when the state was mired in the freedom movement. At the time, the country faced many difficulties and traversed a number of dilemmas -- a time when our art, literature progressed with a novel vision and refreshing ideas. Das closely observed the transforming socio-political and economic conditions and various contemporary issues of the country. He has held a significant niche in the history of the 21st century development of art in the country. As an exponent of modernism, Das articulates a position in comparison with art framed as a critique of the social order, first by highlighting the masses and their struggle for liberation and afterward by expressing discontentment in the social atmosphere as well as revealing the human dilemma in our society.
It is apparent that the painter's working style gradually changed after obtaining his Masters from MS University, Baroda, India in 1981. He was a direct disciple of famous artist KG Subramanian. His canvas delves into the woes and bliss of the common people. His works clearly project the dreams and hopes of the commoners. With the passage of time, Das has refined himself as an artist.
In recent times, his figurative works have a touch of realism but a bit of a distorted look. He is now devising the figures, visages and various parts of the forms. “You can say it is an intense journey through experimentation. I am certainly searching for a new look for my paintings,” said the seasoned artist. A number of animals like dogs, horses, elephants, crows, swans and peacocks have emerged on the canvases, along with figures and other diverse forms. Horses and dogs are the most prevalent subjects currently, and Das has used the animals to convey symbolism. Their torment, ecstasy, pleasure have come to the fore in a lively and intimate manner. The artist said, “Melancholy, conflict, instable emotional state are often highlighted in my paintings. I try to provide a psychological narrative. I want to produce paintings that not only describe how we look physically but also capture mental, emotional and spiritual states. I feel continuity is very significant for a painter. Without persistence, painting cannot be considered art.”
Ds builds up his lines and textures in an individual mode. He also frequently searches the boundaries of expressions with diverse geometric and architectural shapes. From the previous years, a straight line or bar across his canvas has also become his personal characteristic. Scribbles, lines, arrows, broken lines, loops and curls, squares, oval and other forms are also included in the artist's works. He has meticulously gone through various phases of experimentation with colours, textures, lines, and tones.
Media is very important in his mode of expression. He likes to experiment with different mediums. In recent years, he has worked in acrylic for rapidly bringing the media's effect. The medium also allows an artist to create a sense of serenity. In the past, the artist predominantly worked with oil.
The artist is most comfortable working on a large canvas, as his themes and compositions demand space. His work is elucidated by a powerful interplay of figures and space, helped by strong and sweeping brushstrokes. The figures—sometimes in the middle of the canvas, sometimes on the side—always come into view in front of a backdrop which is completely abstract. The tension between the two parts is immensely difficult to be obtained and maintained. Light is another noticeable feature in his works and it focuses especially the facial expression of the figures. He often concentrates on a particular limb or fraction of a human figure. His works are distinguished for their meticulously chaotic, reflective and imposing use of colour.