Dhiraj Choudhury celebrates 75 years, admiring the energy of today's youth with their fresh vitality and ideas
At 75, when Dhiraj Choudhury looks back at over six decades as an artist, he observes how he began as a painter of violence, but now likes to “rise” in love through his works. This positivity marks “Dhiraj 75”, a retrospective of his works on show in Bangalore. “This is my way of communicating, through form and colour, like anyone who talks or writes. I want to speak of all the suffering that people face, and bring in awareness in society through my creativity. I want to motivate youngsters and imbibe values of life in them. I can work and create with my hands. Why shouldn't I use these hands for the betterment of society?” asks Dhiraj.
Born in 1936, he has had more than 100 exhibitions all over the world in countries like England, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore and France. He retired as a professor of painting in Delhi's College of Art in 1996. “I got into art in the 50s as a student in Darjeeling. I was young and inspired and I wanted to fight against all the violence in society. When I joined art college, India was divided. I saw how people suffered in the Bengal partition. It only spurred me to protest and support their views. Later on I changed my attitude and began making paintings of love.”
Dhiraj says his retirement has made him more involved in inculcating social values in youngsters. “My shows are not just about displaying artwork; some part of the money goes towards society. We belong to the society and we should learn to respect our seniors. I have observed that many young artists have forgotten what veterans like K.K. Hebbar and K.G. Subramaniam have achieved. I try to expose students to such artists so they understand the subject better.” Though he is known for his drawings and watercolours, Dhiraj tries to work with whatever medium presents itself to the subject at hand.
“The visual effect of each medium is different. Drawings are two-dimensional and you can only look at them from far away or up close, whereas sculptures are three-dimensional. They are tactile; you can touch them, feel their textures and the boldness of their forms.”
Dhiraj believes that art is a larger medium that reaches out to people across the length and breadth of the society. Society is one of Dhiraj's biggest inspirations, as is nature.
“I love the energy of the youth, with their fresh vitality, ambition and ideas. I began as a painter of violence, but now I like to rise in love rather than fall in love. I want to inspire people to do something positive.”
Dhiraj dreams of the world he inhabited as a child. “When we started our journey, we were trying to counter something. Today we live in a consumerist society that is always seeking money and money breeds corruption.” He feels that though it's difficult to reverse this trend, he does his bit to work towards it. “I try to bring in a change through my thoughts. I have done nothing exceptional. But I want the world to be non-polluted and beautiful, the way it was. I would like the grass to be as green, the sky to be as blue, the rain, water to be as pure and the air to smell as it did when I was a little boy.”
“Dhiraj 75” is on view at Gallery Time & Space, 55 Lavelle Road, till December 18. Call 22124117.
Keywords: Dhiraj Choudhury