Devraj Dakoji reinterprets the wheel of life in his current collection at Gallery Sumukha

Master lithographer, Devraj Dakoji, first exhibited his works in Bangalore in the year 1974. He has since displayed his paintings in the city twice, including his on-going exhibition at Gallery Sumukha. “Bangalore is a city that I like,” he says. “It is a lot like New York – technologically advanced with a lot of exchange of ideas in the field of art.”

Born in 1944, Dakoji is a preeminent printmaker, who has collaborated with the likes of M.F. Husain and whose work has taken him across the globe. Originally hailing from Hyderabad, Dakoji lives and works in New York. But, his work comes from the understanding that life is the same everywhere.

He narrates, “One morning in New York, I woke up hearing the calls of a peacock. I thought I was back in Delhi, where peacocks are common. When I realised that I was still in bed in New York, it dawned on me that all human beings share the same natural world.”

It is for this reason that Dakoji’s artistic landscape is dotted with all kinds of birds – from stationery avians to birds perched on bicycles, pedalling to reach their destinations, but rarely in flight. The imagery also consists of other animals such as horses, cows, and fish, entwined with people in the chakra of life. “The wheel of life is an old Buddhist concept that I have tried to reinterpret in today’s context. Today life is all about the ‘now’. Previous births or future births are not relevant, despite the fact that our present lives are inextricably tied to the births to come or that have passed,” says Dakoji, a practicing Buddhist.

Watercolours, prints and drawings make up Dakoji’s ‘Wheel of Life’ collection at Gallery Sumukha. An occasional mixed media painting also finds its way to the collection that starts off with a pleasant pastel pallet of watercolours. The lithographic prints make for a stark contrast in black and white colours, where upon closer inspection the paintings reveal layers created by the deft use of technique. “In my drawings I have used Chinese ink, sumi, that allows one to create a range of light and dark hues of black,” says Dakoji.

Life and its presence everywhere is a constant theme in his works, one that he has also explored previously in his ‘Pranamu’ series that features Hyderbad’s ubiquitous natural rocks, along with the motif of birds. For Dakoji life is moving force, whether it manifests itself as a rock, bird or human being. The earth, sky and ocean are also seen as life sustaining forces, making nature the predominant theme of his paintings.

Devraj Dakoji’s ‘The Wheel of Life’ is on at Gallery Sumukha until July 26, 2014.