Devajyoti Ray Curated

Indian painter and installation artist

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This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Devajyoti Ray have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Devajyoti Ray's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming painters. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • How did you manage to balance your profession and creativity?

    I always wanted to be an artist but went on to become a bureaucrat. I do not regret as its a good career and great experience. This job has exposed me another kind of world. In past, I have made works showing prisoners, destitutes, beggars, etc. ‘Indignity’, is a painting portraying a woman seeking alms. It is clearly a life of indignity. Even though she is lonely, she has a goat next to her which may or may not belong to her. It is just a poetic licence to show some solace in her life although many may wonder how she feeds the animal (laughs). I added the goat later, after finishing the painting to soften the image. Art helps in easing all the tension which one encounters in the job.

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  • For your solo exhibition at International Art Fair organised by Lalit Kala Akademi at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts were you inspired by Bridget Riley, the English painter and the foremost exponent of Op art?

    I had studied her works for a long time and tried to make some of Bridget type of works. She made stripes in red, blue, grey, etc. continuously which would be horizontal or vertical. Using flat lines, these paintings seem to start moving as if by optical illusion. Her art is called optical art. So I have used the same colour ideas to make regular three-dimensional paintings. I made a series of paintings, including ‘Smoking Bridget’, ‘Drinking Bridget’, ‘Lying Bridget’ and others as a tribute to her.

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  • The theme for your solo exhibition at International Art Fair organised by Lalit Kala Akademi at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts was called “Pseudoreal Aspirations”. Why “Pseudoreal Aspirations”?

    The idea is that what we believe our world to be is not actually based on what we actually see in reality. For example, a person is more influenced by what is shown on the TV or written or aired in the media and internet, rather than what is actually happening. These sources from where one gets images, ideas etc, are not always showing the truth and a person’s exposure to them creates his reality. For example, those with more access to internet will have different kind of reality than those who have lesser. So my idea is that we are living in a pseudoreal world as no reality is actual. This is visible in my paintings. None of them are real, everything is constructed. The colours, shapes and designs are also not real. But in spite of all that, when one sees the painting it is as comprehensible and believable as reality. This is pseudoreality. Take “Pseudoreal Aspirations 1’, the first painting I made for that exhibition. The girl’s face is red, while that of another is green and that of the man is violet. That does not happen in reality but because of the colour combination and a certain way the figures are placed one does not seem to realise that. They look completely understandable. Seeing them in detail one realises it is not a real image. Also this work shows three other works of mine — ‘Bridget Transport Service’, ‘Thinking Bridget and ‘Indignity’.

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  • What is uniquely Indian about your art ?

    India is having cultural exchanges with far flung countries since time immemorial and our folk art, crafts all show influences of many schools of art from all over the world. And till recently, Indian artists had been experimenting with the predominant schools of western art quite unabashedly. It is only while choosing subject matters, that our artists remained uniquely Indian. Yet there had been a few artists like Jamini Roy and later MF Husain, who had shown originality in formative renderings as well. Development of a new formative style requires development of a language of expression. In my paintings this language is largely developed from the popular iconography of India. You must have noticed pink-coloured Ganesha idols, or the depiction of Lord Ram in blue. No one ever questions as how can a person have such colours. We just accept them. Thus you see, it is possible to use your own colours of fantasy and yet create a comprehensible image. Nonetheless colours do have their own chemistry and to create a comprehensible image, one has to develop that grammar. Pseudo-realism is all about that grammar. Its origin is Indian, its grammar, perhaps not.

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  • Which mantra would you suggest for the aspiring artists?

    An artist is not paid for his labour, but for his ideas.

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  • What message do you have in mind for the aspiring artists?

    In the past, art used to be for the bohemian. It never promised you a stable income. Today things are changing and you may get a stable job as an artist. Nonetheless, compared to other fields, here you mostly work on projects and every time a new project comes up, you have to be creative. In fact you have to be creative all the time. An artist is not paid for his labour, but for his ideas. And hence one can survive in this field only with one thing – passion. That is the key word.

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  • There is a trend of artists moving into the digital field of graphics and animation. What do you have to say about it?

    The digital field of graphics and animation is a very exciting field. Highly creative and challenging. Many artists are indeed moving in that direction. But it may not be all rosy. The industry as I understand, is very demanding and so one should venture in the direction only if one has the passion for it. Where would one go, should be decided by one’s temperament, socio-economic needs, and skills.

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  • What kind of opportunities you feel are available for an artist in today’s world?

    Opportunities are immense. Artists are required in advertisements, films, television, and many more areas. Artists can also team up with architects, designers, interior decorators. Art Galleries, auction houses, museums also hire artists. But if the opportunities are expanding, so are the challenges. Like most other fields, this area too is changing very fast. Skill updation is, therefore, a must, to survive in this field.

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  • In your opinion, how much has art education evolved in India? What challenges does it face today?

    A very important question. There exists in actuality, very little in the form of art education in India. The art schools and colleges that exist in India, often teach nothing beyond painting and sculpting and maybe some of the new media. In the west, there is an integration of art schools with regular schools. An art student gets to learn other subjects as well- economics, politics, science. An artist cannot live in a cocoon surrounded by art alone. An artist is a regular human being living in the larger society and reflecting upon it as well. Unfortunately, Indian art colleges are generally isolated islands, where students make art and discuss only art. They do not get the scope to interact academically with students from other fields. Neither do art colleges call teachers from other areas to address the art students. It is a very sad state of affairs.

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  • Among various artists, who have been your most important influences?

    Many. It is not possible to correctly answer this question. I have studied western renaissance art as also Indian traditional art forms and all these inspired me at various points of time. While Picasso and Van Gogh had once been my favorites, I have also loved the art of Zainul Abedin- a Bangladesh artist much forgotten today, or Ganesh Paine. And to be frank there are many many more.

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  • How much time does it take to complete a painting?

    About three days to a month, depending on size and complexity.

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  • Have you always been doing the same kind of work, or has it changed over the time? Where all have you exhibited your paintings?

    Pseudorealism is quite recent. Fourteen years now. I had initially started as a water colourist. Then Balraj Panesar, taught me collage making. That was many years ago. Sometime later, I had started making portraits. One which particularly got the attention was of Che Guevara. It was titled “Transmigration of Soul”. I had made many impressionist works. I have started this new style much later but have stuck on to it for the past fourteen years. It has brought me a lot of appreciation, much beyond my expectation. I have traveled very little but galleries and art fairs from all over the world often call for my paintings for shows. And since they are calling quite often, I assume that my works have some demand abroad.

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  • Have you undertaken any formal training for your artwork? How important you feel it is?

    None at all. Though informal trainings, I had plenty. And nothing I guess teaches you better than on-job learnings. When one goes to school to learn something, he/she has to learn everything that the school curriculum has. Without practical application, most of the stuff is forgotten soon. That is why most organisations, companies insist on a period of on-job training, before an employee is fully inducted into the system. For me everything had been learnt on the job. And the learning continues – from practicing artisans, artists, writers, singers, and so on and so forth. It is a never-ending journey.

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  • Tell us about your art style, which is called as Pseudorealism.

    Pseudoreal is a term taken from mathematics, but were first used in the context of art by American Film critics to describe such films where something constructed artificially had the effect of reality. Those were days when lot of experimentation in film making was going on. Today it is no longer possible to distinguish a film shot on real ground from something constructed in a studio. In a way the whole world as we get to see it through the 24-7 media, is Pseudorealistic. But to me, it is simply a style – a style which allows one to use offbeat colours to create works that still retain the freshness and recognizability of a regular realistic art.

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  • What advise do you have some someone who wants to become an artist but does not have the ability to get formal training ?

    There are both advantages and disadvantages of formal training. The primary advantage of formal training is that it teaches you all the skills of art in one place. In a formal art school, you also get to learn about art-history, philosophy, etc all under one roof. But the disadvantage of art schools is that they tend to take away your originality. That is why some of the best known artists in India had benefited by not being in any school. This includes such illustrious names Ravindranath Tagore, Ramkinker Baij, Amrita Shergill, MF Hussain and FN Souza. So I do not think, not having formal training is much of a handicap. One has to be persistent in what one is doing. It is true for any profession, art included.

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  • Who mention irony as one of things you try to convey subtly through your art - do you often find viewers getting your message ?

    Of course. I am a prominent obituarist of Post-modernism and shun all kinds of ambiguities in art. Pseudorealism is a style, where something abstract and unreal gets the appeal of reality. The idea is thus to use abstraction to create a comprehensible imagery. But the key word here is ‘comprehensible’. That is hallmark of my kind of art.

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  • Have you considered using software such a Photoshop to create art - or perhaps digitally re-imagine what you have created on canvas ?

    There is nothing wrong in using modern technological tools in creating artworks. Nonetheless, I prefer the traditional methods of sketching, and then painting with brush.

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  • How easy is it for a young person like yourself establish themselves as a artist in modern day India ?

    Establishing in any creative field always takes time. But the Indian art market is becoming very matured and there is a genuine demand for good works. The very profile of an Indian art collector is also changing. Unlike in the past, the new collector has good knowledge of what is happening the world over, and has a mind of her own. She does not necessarily buy what her gallery sells her but what she herself thinks is right. Everywhere around I see people really willing to learn. This had not been so even a decade ago. I have always enjoyed interacting with the new age art collector, who is passionate, questioning and confident.

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  • Among modern day Indian artists, who would you consider your inspiration ?

    Jamini Roy is one artist who I admire a lot. At a time, when most Indian artists were experimenting with mainly western styles like cubism and impressionism, here was one man who could develop an uniquely original style of his own. Again for similar reasons, I admire MF Husain, Anish Kapoor and Subodh Gupta. But while I admire these artists, I am not influenced by them or their styles. In fact the very idea is not to get influenced and do your own.

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  • What is your signature - I mean how would someone recognize the artist from your paintings ?

    It was in 2002, that had first introduced the Pseudo-realist forms into my paintings and it is now almost 18 years that I am continuing with the style. The Indian art market took some time to get used to this new genre of art but I think people have now started accepting it.

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