Paresh Maity, painter of longest work, pays tribute to tallest leader Gandhi

To commemorate Gandhi's ongoing 150th birth anniversary year, the artist painted a canvas on the Dandi march

  • Published 28.10.18, 2:05 AM
  • Updated 28.10.18, 12:07 PM
  • 2 mins read
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Paresh Maity's Dandi March Image: Art Alive Gallery

Paresh Maity, the artist who has the longest painting in the world to his credit recently paid tribute to the tallest leader India has ever had-- Mahatma Gandhi. As the country celebrates Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, Maity created a 15-feet long canvas paying homage to Gandhi’s iconic 1930 Dandi march.

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Maity wanted to work on a large canvas to "emphasise the importance of the subject". But he is, of course, no stranger to large canvasses. The Indian Odyssey, his 800-feet long mural, is hard to miss at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport.

In his tribute to Gandhi’s march protesting the British tax on salt, the 53-year-old artist wanted to evoke the texture of salt and sea shore. "I wanted to depict the struggle of the movement," says Maity. The result is in mixed media, including saw dust.

"I have mixed water colour, oil, acrylic, saw dust, different kinds of glues and all kinds of medium," he says. To add to the effect, salt mounds are placed in front of the work at Art NOW 18, an annual series exhibiting new works by contemporary Indian artists, at Delhi-based Art Alive Gallery. "The installation is an extension of the visual impression left by the artwork," Maity says.

This is not the first time Maity has worked with Gandhi as his subject. He has created two paintings depicting Satyagraha. "Gandhiji is not only the father of the nation he is the icon of this world," the artist says. 

Paresh Maity has created two works depicting Satyagraha
Paresh Maity has created two works depicting Satyagraha Image: Twitter

In his latest creation, he has used water colour with other media. "It is good to evolve and work with other mediums. But I started working with water colours when I was seven years old. So I will never give it up. Water colour will always be my heart and soul," says the artist known for his early landscapes and proficiency in a medium few can claim.

He admits it is not easy to work with water colours. "There are many challenges when one is working with water colours both in terms of the medium and the size. With water colours you cannot make very large-sized paintings," he says.

"I have been practicing to create a new language in water colours," he says. Maity has also been working on sculptures, coming full circle to where he started. He moulded clay models of gods and goddesses and sold them at the village market as a child. Maity was influenced by artisans or murtikars making Durga idols. "Seeing them work, I knew I wanted to be an artist," he tells us. 

Paresh Maity has 79 solo exhibitions to his credit
Paresh Maity has 79 solo exhibitions to his credit Image: Art Alive Gallery

For Paresh Maity, the journey from a small town in West Bengal to the international arena has been a long, fulfilling one. With 79 solo exhibitions and several awards including the Padma Shri, Maity is one of the most prolific artists in the country now.

So what's next? He has recently returned from China and is working on a series of paintings on the Chinese landscape. "For hundreds of years, Chinese masters have created paintings capturing the beauty and mysticism of Chinese landscapes. I had earlier done a smaller version but I will be doing a big series based on Chinese landscapes," he says.

Exhibition: Art NOW by Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi

Date: On until October 31, 2018

Time: 10.30am to 7pm