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Updated: August 11, 2012 11:07 IST

He gave up the gun for the brush

Madhur Tankha
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A painting by Jiten Hazarika which will be up on display at Sridharani Art
Gallery in the Capital from today.
The Hindu A painting by Jiten Hazarika which will be up on display at Sridharani Art Gallery in the Capital from today.

The 75-year-old Army man-turned-artist, who lives in Noida these days, says he wants to be known as a person who wields the brush rather than a gun

He quit the Indian Army to pursue his passion for painting. Assamese painter Jiten Hazarika has not looked back since then having held a series of solo exhibitions in the country and abroad.

Hazarika has now produced 23 works of art focusing predominantly on women’s emancipation for his ten-day-long exhibition, “A Life in Pictures”, which will be mounted at Sridharani Art Gallery here beginning this Saturday.

“Compared to my growing up years, women are given better treatment in terms of education. In Assam, every house has at least one educated woman. In the field of politics, we have had Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Chief Ministers like Jayalalithaa and Mayawati. However, we need to have 33 per cent of seats reserved for women in Parliament.”

The 75-year-old Army man-turned-artist, who lives in Noida these days, says he wants to be known as a person who wields the brush rather than a gun. “In 1964 I joined the Army because I was not deriving satisfaction from my job as assistant engineer at the Assam State Electricity Board. In Army I had to do rigorous training. While I used to slog during the day time, I devoted my time at night for my artistic pursuit. Luckily, in the Army we are not prevented from pursuing our creative talent. In fact, we were encouraged to paint, sing or act but we were told in clear terms not to divulge secrets of the Army. I was declared as the best painter in the Army in a competition held in 1982.”

Hazarika says the Army wants civilians to understand that though soldiers and officers use guns and sophisticated weapons to safeguard the country’s borders it also encourages them to become cultural ambassadors. “So even in the Army my exhibitions were held in different parts of the country. In fact, my first exhibition was at Academy of Arts in Calcutta in 1972.”

The rustic simplicity and unspoiled freshness of the picturesque North-Eastern State had guided Hazarika all these years. Besides, his in-depth knowledge and philosophy of Sanskrit literature is reflected in his paintings which are also rooted in the ancestral heritage of his State where the women folk play a pivotal role in day-to-day life.

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