An exhibition of paintings evokes the colours of Rajasthan via the motif of a fish

A fish, rendered in an array of colours with intricate detailing, appears to be swimming whimsically, as fish do, or in the direction of food. But one is aware that all movement is a conceit, for the fish is ultimately stilled by the frame. Closer inspection reveals a few arrows which have pierced the colourful entrails of the fish and twisted improbably thereafter. But there are no exit wounds. The arrows almost seem an appendage of the fish, so organically have they been rendered.

The untitled painting is part of an exhibition of acrylic paintings on paper and canvas by Amit Harit, 26, which display a similar tension between movement and stillness, conveyed through the medium of fish. Titled ‘Transformations’, the exhibition was inaugurated at the India International Centre Annexe in the Capital recently by art critic Keshav Malik. Speaking on the occasion, Malik praised the “craft” of the artist. “Amit has crafted images from his subconscious and is steering them towards a harmonious direction. There is nothing aesthetically displeasing about his art, and the lack of violent wrenchings reflects his own nature,” he said. Having observed Amit’s work over the last few years, Malik asserted that these paintings are part of a continually evolving project, and encouraged the artist to continue painting heedless of monetary considerations. “It is necessary for artists to cultivate solitude, as big cities are not conducive to devotion to art. Cities are mandis now, places of profit, not art and culture,” he observed.

Amit, a resident of Manoharpur village near Jaipur, Rajasthan, echoed Malik’s views. “When I was in Delhi for about six months in 2011, I was disoriented by the hurriedness of the city. I realised there can be no stability in art if there is no stability in one’s own life,” Amit remembered.

The paintings are a product of Amit’s rootedness in Rajasthan, its colours and its desires. “Rajasthan has a golden city, a sun city, and a pink city. But it is also a drought-prone area characterised by a constant thirst. The fish is a metaphor for Rajasthan and my own desire to progress while remaining grounded,” he explained.

According to Hilda Kathuria, an art collector present at the exhibition, “The paintings are full of life and movement. They also bring together aspects of tribal and contemporary art.” But Amit, who was chosen for the Young Artist Scholarship of the Ministry of Culture in 2011, refused to attach labels to his art.

Having completed his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from the Rajasthan School of Art, Jaipur in 2010, Amit has exhibited his work individually at Azad Bhavan Art Gallery, New Delhi in 2012, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur in 2010 and Press Club of India, New Delhi in 2010. His work has also been exhibited at group shows in Lucknow, Jaipur and New Delhi.

(The exhibition is on at India International Centre Annexe till July 11.)