Amit Dutt on his love for lines, and the evocation of loss through art

As one walked into the gallery at Rabindra Bhavan, Mandi House, one was greeted by a surprise. Expecting canvas renditions of the painter’s expression, one found instead a myriad range of media through which it articulated itself: rice-paper, metal sheets, record disks and even musical instruments! Where they depicted use of charcoal, acrylics as well as oils, Amit Dutt, the artist himself admitted that it is the lines that make up the heart of his work.

“I love my lines...when I have charcoal in my hand, they come out with a force and fluidity from within me, and other mediums like oils, that at times require one to wait for a layer to dry before continuing composition, sometimes feel like hindrances to this force,” he said, attributing this as the reason for the multiple, interwoven outlines all his figures have in each of his works. “I just enjoy letting my hand run free with the charcoal, each line looks a thing of beauty to me, and all the outlines together make my figures what they are. Each artist has a signature through which their work can be known, whether painter or even writer, and this is mine.”

Most of the works on display at ‘Art Sutra’, Dutt’s recently held solo exhibition, are part of his ‘Nostalgia’ series. Each work makes use of signifiers in the form of an activity like kite-flying or hop-scotch, and objects such as tops or marbles, and what is signified is a childhood lost to the ceaseless onward march of time (also appearing as a recurring pendulum in many of the works). The artist wants each work to speak to each individual spectator. His works are his voice, he said, and do not set out to covey a fixed, intended meaning. It was also for this reason that he believes pure abstract art is the highest form of art. His own work is simultaneously realistic and abstract, but the intention behind each creation is purely one of letting a moment of inspiration articulate itself; the surface, medium, form, colour and technique follow on instinct rather than deliberation. “I do not want anyone to look for fixed meanings in my work. Each work can mean differently to different individuals, by what they see in it rather than anything I have intended for them to see. The best kind of response to my art is, for me, one of enjoying the visual and letting it speak to you at an emotional level without a conscious attempt to decode,” he said.