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Title:        Retrospective of DATTA BANSODE (b.1969 - 2017)

Dates:      22 August to 8 Sept, 2017

ABOUT DATTA BANSODE (b.1969 - 2017)

A little boy of eight in a Municipal School in Latur, Maharashtra, quickly learns that skill is power of a sort: unlike his classmates he can draw well and his teacher often calls him to draw on the black board for the others to copy. Sharing the teacher’s platform for a few months, he feels special, different from the others.

For Datta, these were the first stirrings. He decided to develop this skill. His first teachers were the Buddhist monks, neighbours, settled as close to the Ajanta Ellora caves as means made possible, eking out there living through “Bhiksha” and making “Tankhas”, telling this intense eight year old, Puranic stories and stories of the Buddha, while all he watched was their hands. And that was the beginning. The first intangible fingers of a dream took shape. After matriculation, he decided he would become a drawing teacher. What else? His parents, already struggling, are waiting for their son to begin earning and contributing to the household. Become an Artist? He did not even know that there were people who paid for paintings. So, to the College of Art, Pune, for a drawing teacher’s course; a brave new world for the simple lad from Latur, whose finite horizons were school, cricket, swimming, drawing and painting to become a teacher which would enable him to continue what he could not help and take his place in his world. And from there to Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai, was the natural step. He stepped into the professional art world soon after graduating in 1992 with a group show at the Jehangir Art Gallery, the Mecca of all artist converging to Mumbai.

He has never looked back.

The line, which is Datta’s forte, does almost everything in his painting. It is the life breath of his paintings. His palette is black and white, rather harsh, yet pulsating with energy. The figures in the paintings, weightless in the frame, convey much of the tension, the heart and energy of the world in which they once moved or perhaps will move some day.

Datta’s single pre-occupation is with the human figure. It is his major obsession, which consumes him totally and directs his energies. These human statements are enormously expressive, vital, monumental of poetic intensity.

A turning point came in 1992, when he returned to Latur in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that had rocked the district that year. Walking through the ravaged streets, amidst women mourning for their lost families, the bleakness of their figures stirred him, creating a change in his style. Abandoning bright colours, Datta began to work with a palette of chalk-white, beige and charcoal, creating somber, uncluttered compositions.

His Buddha series was painted as a response to the 1998 nuclear tests carried out by the Government of India. Bansode was struck by the irony of the project's code phrase ¬"Buddha's Smile" - used by the government to refer to the tests. "After all," he says, "Buddha's philosophy is one of peace, and anti-crime."


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