'The butterfly is a metaphor for life'

Feb 24, 2015, 08:11 IST | Soma Das

Moving away from black and white art, artist Ajay De debuts in colour works for his latest exhibition, The Butterfly People. It includes 3D installations and winged frameworks, with the highlight being an installation featuring 2,000 butterflies

Known for his black and white charcoal works, 48-year-old artist Ajay De is making his debut with colour works through the latest exhibition, The Butterfly People. The artworks are inspired by the transformation of the caterpillar into a vibrant-hued butterfly.

Ajay De Artist
Ajay De Artist 

Apart from paintings, there are framed artworks, too, in which one can put any image, albeit in the shape of a butterfly. The collection also includes 3D installations, including one with over 2,000 small butterflies.

Excerpts from an interview:

Q. Tell us about your latest exhibition and what inspired it.
A. The butterfly stands as a metaphor for life. Nothing is more expressive and innovative than a butterfly. It knows no set patterns of expression. In fact, like nature, it breaks patterns all the time. Hence, my exhibition is inspired by the beauty, colour and shapes of butterflies and its vibrant relationship with nature.

Q. What influenced your decision to make artworks in colour?
A. I have always experienced colour. But I had never expressed it. The butterfly's expressions with colour resonated with my experiences and I decided to experiment. Soon, I began revelling in it. Before long, these paintings and installations began taking shape.

Q. How many artworks will be on display; what is the medium used?
A. The Butterfly People collection consists of 25 charcoal works with installations veiled in a butterfly theme. Charcoal is the medium as well as acrylic on canvas or paper or both.

Artworks from The Butterfly People collection by Ajay De; a winged framework. This exhibition marks De’s first foray into colour.
Artworks from The Butterfly People collection by Ajay De; a winged framework. This exhibition marks De’s first foray into colour. 

Q. Is there a message behind the artworks?
A. Butterflies have always inspired me to introspect. They have filled me with the desire to explore the whole spectrum of colours. The flight has helped my spirit soar. Their life has compelled me to explore the permanent impact of temporary life. Their beauty and life have inspired me a lot. My message is that we, as humans, should learn something from butterflies as they have such a short life but they seem to enjoy it to the fullest and express their inherent beauty, every
single day.

Q. Was it a challenge or a unique experience to work in colour?
A. It was challenging as I have never explored it so extensively before. I used only a bit of reds and blues in my works earlier. This is the first time that I have used so many colours. My main medium is charcoal but on colour, which is a difficult way of expressing art. Years of painting have borne fruit and this is the result. Charcoal is still a major part of this collection but I have infused it with a myriad of colours and now there is no stopping me!

Q. How long did you work on this collection?
A. It took me three years. An idea is born and then it takes months to develop my work. It's why so many moods are expressed in my works and why this collection is so varied.

Q. What's next?
A. Next in line is a collection on meditation but that has a while to come as I take my time before starting out on a new collection. I have been meditating for 20 years and hopefully, it will be a reflection of that journey.

Till March 2, 11 am to 7 pm
At Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda.
call 22843989


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