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 Amitava Das  (1947 - )

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Lived/Active: India      Known for: Painting, design

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Amitava Das was born in New Delhi in 1947 and was raised in Shimla.  He studied drawing and painting at the Delhi College of Art, New Delhi from 1965-72.  In 1974 he took up the job of a lecturer at the Art Institute of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.  He was also a visiting lecturer at the College of Art and Women’s Polytechnic, New Delhi from 1975- 77.  He had his first solo exhibition in 1969 at he Kunika-Chemould Gallery, New Delhi, while he was still a student and since then has participated regularly in both solo and group expositions nationally and internationally.  Amitava lives and works in New Delhi.

Painting for him is a language used to express the self, a tool to comment on what he observes around him. The human figures along with trees, birds, animals, clouds, the sky, earth, sun and the wind are recurring images that find a place within his canvases. Thematically his paintings are about people who maintain their self esteem while faced with adversity. The human figures that inhabit his paintings are robotic or skeletal in appearance.  Although the subjects he chooses to paint are somber, Amitava’s paintings are not foreboding or gloomy.  His paintings are heavily textured and he pays great attention to the background in his paintings.  The sun, wind and the blue sky add to the color on his canvas.  Amitava’s work cannot be categorized as expressionistic, figurative or narrative.  As an artist he does not like to be bound through well-defined boundaries.

Amitava uses water colors, oils, pastels and acrylic. According to the artist, paintings are like his thoughts and every medium has a certain role.  A similar image executed in two different mediums will have something different to say.  The artist has also used mediums as diverse as cloth, ply, tissues, and discarded bus tickets, crumpled paper to straw and commercial packaging that has been disposed off as a part of his work.  Amitava keeps translating what he sees around him onto his canvases and his later paintings reflect the conflict in the world and are more aggressive in style than his earlier ones; they are also more abstract than his earlier works.

He has been involved in the designing of publications, exhibitions, interiors and furniture.  In 1989 Amitava received a fellowship from the Federal Republic of Germany for Graphic design.  He has been profiled on MTV and other television programs; he has also been profiled in a film made by K.Bikram Singh for Doordarshan called A Painters Portrait.  He has been featured in many publications namely the Times of India, The Statesman, The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Pioneer, Business Today etc.  He has co-curated a contemporary Indian art show for the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi titled the Yellow Deity.

Amitava received the National Award from the Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi in 1976 and has also received awards at the All India Exhibition of Prints at Chandigarh in 1980, 1981 and 1982.  Amitava also received the Sahitya Kala Parishad Award, New Delhi in 1982.

His work can be found in permanent collections of the Society of Contemporary Art, London, The National Gallery of Modern Art and the Lalit Kala Academy, in New Delhi, at Bharat Bhavan in Chandigarh and in many private collections.

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