My college years Education

‘Art is life, and life is art’

Padma Shri Paresh Maity knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist, and never shied away from the hard work it took. As a college student, undaunted by the four-hour commute it took to get to campus, he put the time to good use, interacting with people around him to find inspiration for his artwork.

Now, he has 79 solo exhibitions to his credit. His works are part of several collections around the globe; they adorn the walls of British Museum, London, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, to name a few.

And if you have been to Terminal 3 in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, you may have noticed his 800 ft.-long painting — one of the longest in the world. Recently, he took on the role of art educator too through a workshop that he conducted for school students. Excerpts from an interview.

Choosing the fine arts

I was seven years old when I saw artisans in my native village making idols of Goddess Durga. I was mesmerised and decided I wanted to be an artist. It has been a burning desire since then.

At 16, I wished to join the Government College of Art & Craft (GCAC), in Kolkata. But my father’s colleagues persuaded him to make me appear for joint entrance exams for medical and engineering.

So, I couldn’t get into the arts college. I was never attentive towards my studies as my mind would always wander towards art.

Finally, at 18, after my higher secondary education, I got admission to study art GCAC in 1983. I studied different forms of art such as painting, sculpting, graphic design, graphic art, and applied art.

At GCAC, and then later for my Master of Fine Arts at Delhi College of Arts, every day was a new experience. It was like starting a new chapter of a book. Creating new pieces of art was like inventing a creation in the universe for the first time.

Memorable incident

I have thousands of memorable incidents at college, but the most memorable was when I came to Kolkata for my admission to GCAC. Approximately 1,200 students applied for 60 seats, and I was nervous the day the results were announced. When they pasted the results on the board, I scanned for my name thrice from the bottom of the sheet and was frustrated when I didn’t find it even after scanning more than 3/4th of the sheet. Just before finally losing all hope, I scanned the sheet again — this time in the ascending order. I was stunned to see my name at the top.

Mentors and influences

My first mentors were Nature and the people that I used to interact with, on my commute to college. I would travel four hours each way to reach my college in Kolkata from Tamluk, West Bengal, since I did not have enough money to stay in the city. I did this for six years. I was of course also influenced by artists like JMW Turner, John Constable, Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, as well as tribal and miniature art, and many masters from India.

Arts education in India

In the earlier days, art as a subject was not given much importance. But times are now changing, and arts education is now valued. I truly believe that art plays a major role in building a child’s personality and it uplifts the quality of life. The discipline, hard work and passion that is required to study art make it integral to a successful curriculum. To promote and encourage art education, it must be introduced to students at an early stage in schools. In fact, I visited Mount Litera School International, in Mumbai, to conduct a workshop for students as part of their arts week. At the end of the day, art is life, and life is art.

For students interested arts careers

One must be extremely passionate, truthful, disciplined, and hard working. These qualities implement a great sense of aesthetics in a student’s mind.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 1:09:35 PM |

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