Jiten Hazarika : Art as retreat

An article by Rupanjali Baruah

Narratives of women are explored on his canvas. They are meant to stir new observations of women, their varied roles in the social milieu as well as within the four walls of their domestic world. Though we are often used to viewing only the archetypal roles of women, Jiten Hazarika deviates from the custom-made experiences and places them among his own aesthetic nuclei of hills and valleys that confer particular contours, gestures to their dispositions on his canvas. We then understand the very climate of that circle where these women belong. All these individual perspectives of women arise from the artist’s own impression of these women drawn from a series of flashbacks from his native region of the northeast where he derives a rich, luxurious sources of inspiration to transfer these musings upon his oeuvre. As a result past and present invariably ricochet back and forth on the cadences captured on his canvas.

Our gaze slowly ponders over the various attributes of woman as companion, homemaker, mother, peasant and many more. In each we notice a fine sensibility of the artist to break free from stereotyped gender bias and instead he recreates a better interpolation between man and woman. Viewed in this context, Jiten Hazarika’s delivers a deeper meaning that exists at the subterranean consciousness that reaches to the very core of the soul of these women drawn from various perspectives of life situations. This is how the viewer gets to know more closely about the artist’s personal reactions towards human relationships. He discovers vibrant hues, rhythm, space, all in one. He understands how relationships work at a different pace for different people, particularly how a motherhood or simply the role of raising a child involves some vital issues and exclusive to women. He observes how women battle with time, how they sometimes need to escape from the domain of domestic space and meaningfully find a way to deconstruct reality with fantasy or a world of make-belief. This is how life becomes worth living. Thus we notice clearly that Jiten Hazarika’s views on women are not lightweight; he sees a robustness, as fulsome as a river in spate, and at the same time he never reduces their feminine grace and charm. This he achieves by instilling in each of his women with details of everyday reality surrounded by disparate objects and situations so that we accept them with quiet surrender. And at the same time their the underlying mystery of a far-fetched fantasy that hovers upon these objective realities.

Nostalgia seems to work behind the scenes that add depth to his observations. This is how he celebrates the female form – this gives a new dimension to the male view of the opposite sex and thereby frees the human sensibility from age-old prejudices that surround women. A strong dominant voice seems to deliver a clarion call to usher in change in the view of women. The artist in him is aware that women are not weak submissive or reluctant participants in the social context, and no more gasping for breath. These are the recurrent narratives that are running in the veins of women and here we have an artist who has felt the very inner pulse of women. He has opened a new door to observe women anew with color, race, nationality that all come together in subtle outlines, shapes and form.

As for his figures, the optical illusion is paramount to him that is achieved through the use of attires of brilliant colors, layers of fabric that hide more than they reveal though there is the underlying suggestion of a mystery that is yet to unfold and this invites the viewer to explore them closely. His women exist in a spatial world of their own social grid. Jiten Hazarika’s mastery is not merely with these apparent details of form, he infuses a particular spirit in each of them to make them come alive to say what they must. Their voices are henceforth no longer stifled or muted. His reverence for filial responsibilities, the adherence to traditional values are imbedded in his interpretation of women, almost like a chant of a prayer, we hear his own invocation of his faith and fascination of women. There is a harmonious pattern in his delineation, there is nothing too loud or raucous, since he cannot view women with such one-sided myopic attitude – he leans more to hear the melody than the cacophony.

The old language of art is not enough, he has to evolve his very own language drawn from within, from his native soil, so most of his women figures resemble the face of the orient, rounded, fulsome and shapely like the contours of hills and valleys. They are dressed in attire that belong to a particular locale, vibrant, multi-layered, he picks up every detail, syllable by syllable, image by image. They are arabesque figures captured in the midst of action, be alone or in a community of women bound by emotions of gaiety sadness or splendor at one thing called life. They embrace the infinite gamut of human living. Jiten Hazarika feels that his viewer should have a discipline in observing to arrive at the real meaning that he tries to achieve by the interplay of fantasy and reality and then interpret them meaningfully. Eroticism remain at the subterranean level of his consciousness as his figures of women jump out of his reverie to find their locale upon his canvas. Therein lie a strange longing in him to go back to a retreat of old memories where he would relieve that old forgotten world. There is a consequent desire to justify his choice of this world to be the setting in his canvas. This is an internal necessity to treat the intangible phenomenon that surrounds his universe. So his women belong to a particular nuclei of existence that only the explore can feel and explain. It is his own to claim and from where he shall never seek a point of departure and this makes his breadth of vision is ever expanding that encompasses the very convincing arena of fantasy. And yet there is a veritable inner discipline that saves his incredible from turning into a mundane credulous work of make-believe. His universe is so believable because of the structural harmony derive the intensity of his line and color. There is purity of sensation which is a matter of necessity for the artist. His choice of color is also derived from the very nature of each of the experiences that he upholds on his canvas. He does not need to follow a priori theory of color, because he has his own treasure of sensation of color. And quite decisively, he keeps himself away from landscapes, it is the human figure and particularly that of women that fascinates him most. And at the same time, he is not concerned with the outward appearances of these beings, they are bathed in light, placed within a simple spectacle, a setting that belongs to a world of their own – face, background, color all combine to come altogether like a symphony upholding feminine grace and ardor. And above all, it is the play of fantasy that lends a spectral quality to every detailed expression. The primal instinct that draws a man towards a woman plays a significant role in the private instinctive mysticism that we discover on his canvas.