One day, a B.Tech electrical engineer who is also a mathematician, defied his family and quit a well paying job to plunge full time into painting following the call of his heart. It took the family several years to come to terms with this unacceptable twist in the life of their son, Mrinal Dutt, a Bengali from Ahmedabad, who worked very hard to carve a niche in the transient world of contemporary art. Today with a unique language of his own in painting, he is a promising artist who has put India on the world map of modern art.
Behind his beautiful canvasses, the play of hues and the flow of forms, is a story of relentless effort, staunch determination, undying hope and strangely enough, the ‘fear of failure’. He categorically says that the fear of failure has been a hugely motivating factor in his life.
The formative years were difficult with Mrinal working late after office, spending every free moment sketching, painting and experimenting with different types of mediums and varied styles until his hands began to move freely and manifest his ideas and imagination on canvas. But again, it was the fear of failing that drove him to success for he needed to prove himself to his family, the world around him and most importantly to himself.
His works take birth in Indian culture which is his greatest muse. He says, “I am drawn deeply towards our Indian culture which is so diverse. Be it mythology, the contemporary or simply our villages and villagers, I find our culture to be a perennial source of inspiration, just like nature”.
Most of his works focus on women because he considers women to be the life-force of this world without whom there would be no world at all! Yet his women are all faceless, draped in the colours and attires of mythological characters and sport a ‘bindi’, the quintessential dot that negotiates an instant connect with tradition! When asked why they are faceless, he remarks, “I have left them deliberately without any features because the moment there are features on the face, it becomes a portrait, an identity is formed and this becomes a limiting factor but when there is no identifying feature, much is left to the imagination of the viewer and the woman could be just anybody”.
Imagination is sacrosanct to the artist and the viewer and when the artist makes a special effort to not tamper with the viewer’s imagination, there is a lot of dialogue that can materialize between the artist, the viewer and needless to say the piece of art!
Inspired early by the remarkable body of works created by M.F. Hussain and his life, Mrinal believes that there are no shortcuts to making oneself heard in the art world and that it is only hard work that pays. He also adds that for an artist, developing a signature style is very important to get noticed. “There is no comparison between artists as each artist comes with a unique set of hands, fingers and imagination!” says Mrinal.
Like a majority of self-taught artists, Mrinal too does not believe that art degrees are a pre-requisite to making art and launching oneself into art mainstream because he strongly believes that art cannot be taught or learnt, and it is only the colour combinations, forms and styles that one can be familiarized with.
Indeed art is a singularly intimate and imaginative experience within the artist. Being self-taught also means that his journey has been chock full of challenges as it is a process of self-discovery, discovery of techniques, styles and ultimately an unending process of learning every moment.
Mrinal has been the recipient of several awards, accolades and recognition in various forms, from different organizations and movements within India and also from abroad. His works have been exhibited widely in numerous exhibitions, both solo and group, across India and also at a Paris group show and the Berlin Expo. His canvasses are part of collections in India and London.
He says, “Being an artist, we have the power to see the world differently”! As a self-taught artist who has come up the hard way, he says that there is immense artistic talent in India that is languishing in near total obscurity, without being seen or heard. He earnestly requests galleries, collectors, curators and art lovers to give opportunities to exceedingly hard working young artists to showcase their work. He believes this sort of encouragement will go a long way in inspiring them further to pursue their passion even more passionately.