“I am really blessed to be making art!” says Prittam as we walk to the chai shop near his studio in Shahpur Jat. It’s been 11 years since he made Delhi his base and with each passing year he is more convinced that he was born to be an artist.
“I chose Delhi because it has some of the best galleries, it is India’s art hub and compared to Mumbai, it is affordable to live here.”
When he arrived in 2007, he knew no one. He had just completed his Masters in Printmaking from Santinikaten and he went gallery to gallery but no one wanted his prints. He thinks the prerequisite to producing great art is to struggle, which is what separates the part-time artists from the life-long artists.
“There must have been 40 of us in my BFA class, today barely 2 are pursuing fine arts. Similarly, nearly 60 of us graduated with Masters in Fine Arts, now maybe 5 or 6 are practicing artists.”
As many of his friends stopped practicing their art to find more stable jobs, Prittam remained hungry to paint and he held his first solo show in 2008. “I have never kept another option. There is no plan-B for me. I don’t know anything else but make art. I can’t handle multi-tasking. I can’t do more than art nor can I do anything less.”
He wasn’t this convinced when he was still at home in Jajpur, Odisha. His mother wanted him to study engineering but it was his artist father who steered him towards the arts. When he was only a boy his father took him to Santiniketan.
“I wasn’t really good at school. When I applied at Santiniketan I didn’t get through. So I continued by studies in Odisha. I tried again in Santiniketan but I still didn’t get through. After my BFA I reapplied once more, this time for my Masters, and I got admission”
It was in Santiniketan that Prittam’s world got enlarged. Students from across India and from Europe and South East Asia ignited his curiosity and creativity. In time the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Goldsworthy and Atul Dodiya became his heroes.
“My father showed me Van Gogh’s work when I was a kid and then one day I got a chance to go for a Global Art Exchange program in America, run by the Harrison Center for the Arts in Indianapolis, and I got to behold the original…it was indescribable. I felt this deep sense of peace…it looked like Van Gogh had made his portrait merely few days ago…his authenticity moved me.”
Prittam is an avid traveler and he has just returned from Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. He finds movement motivating and each trip results in producing a series of ink works.
“When I paint I become part of the society I live in. Though I don’t stick too long with one particular subject…whether its landscape, animals…I search for mediums to express my art, that’s all. My style is semi-realism and I use a lot of mixed media.”
"In 2009 I did a solo show at Art For Change Foundation’s gallery, it was titled “Ordeal” and it was one of the most fulfilling exhibitions I’ve done. The gallery that represents me now is Kohl Art and they have been consistently supportive by showcasing my work over the years. I’d love to one day have a solo show at Art District. Next month in Feb, I’ve got a retrospective solo show at Triveni. I want to celebrate and reflect on my journey so far."
“My name is Prittam Priyalochan and I am a Delhi based artist. You can find me at: www.facebook.com/prittamsartwork/
Interview and writing by Joshua John, New Delhi.