Digbijayee Khatua: The minuscule illustrator of the metropolis

Digbijayee Khatua: The minuscule illustrator of the metropolis


By Pranamita Borgohain

With a distinct watercolour technique, Digbijayee presents splendid picturesque works using elements from traditional miniature paintings and Patta paintings that he fuses along with his experimentation with paper cuts. This process creates stratums that give his paintings a three dimensional approach.

Pranamita: Do your works have multiple stories and imageries? Could you elaborate on your inspirations? Do you take references from some narratives or poems?

Digbijayee: Born in eastern Odisha I grew up surrounded by folk paintings and traditional motifs on the house walls of my native village. Till that time my inspirations were limited to Orissan temple architecture and Patta paintings. My practice was immensely influenced and marked by my relocation from Odisha to Delhi for my higher studies. The personal encounter with the ever-changing cityscape is very much evident in my recording of its minute details, both real and imagined which I fuse with stylistic elements drawn from miniature paintings and traditional Patta paintings.

Living in the cultural capital Delhi, I capture the splendour of a city along with the swarm that I used to come across in my day to day living. How the city is affected by the unnatural elements and pollution, where everybody is quite indulged and fascinated to its artificial magnificence. During my process I used to compile some stories in my native language (Odiya) which is an integral part of my image-making procedure. Sometimes I bring in characters from my past to create a drama and sometimes they posit relevant questions from the society and issues concerning us at present.

Urban Portraits-I, II, III

Title : Urban Portraits-I, II, III

Pranamita: You have mostly worked with watercolours but in your own style giving it a different approach. How do you get this effect? How important is the medium for you?

Digbijayee: I have done a lot of landscape studies amidst nature during my Bachelors in Odhisa where I learned to work primarily with water colour. When I moved to Delhi I experimented with different mediums on paper in pursuit of my true creativity potential.

I am interested in a wide range of processes and approaches in contemporary practice. Watercolour as a medium is most important for me because I find it very effective and playful. Currently I am exploring the unique ways to articulate the beauty and spiritual essence of this medium. I have been working with watercolour for ten long years which have created a great interest in me to play with it, where I am able to easily cut the papers that I paste and make layers giving it a 3d effect. The pictorial design gains various perspectives and layers browsing through compartmentalized renditions of the city, that do not shy away from rather romanticized and significantly embellished assortments of various mediums and materials.

Digbijayee Khatua

Left : Through the eyes of the city
Right : Constructive Landscape

Pranamita: Your imagery includes buildings, interiors, nature, flora and fauna with a recent intervention of machineries all on a single platter. Will you elaborate on your visual articulation and your interest in urbanization and cityscapes?

Digbijayee: I have always been interested in urbanization and cityscapes as a subject matter. With my rural background, the appeal of the urban lifestyle and the metropolitan has instigated in me the desire to see the city architecture, its view, history, design, culture, and the mundane day to day life in a city. I'm mostly influenced by the complex systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing, and transportation. A big city or metropolis usually has associated suburbs and exurbs and the interwoven relationship and juxtaposition of differences overlapping one another to form a throbbing metropolitan life that fascinates me.

As we go further into this contemporary age of technology, we have become more and more like machines. When we do something, we don't harbour any particular emotions or attachments with the work, we just go on doing it without looking into different human aspects. The Machine is a major component for the city dwellers. The idea is to portray the value discerning images and gauging the diversity between machine and urban picture. It carries the aesthetic, beauty and grisly of science and technology.

Productive Land

Title : Productive Land

Pranamita: From being represented as a student in Students' Biennale, Kochi Muziris Biennale, 2014 to your representation at IAF 2018 which has an international viewership you have come a long way in a short span of time. How do you think your works have evolved over time? What new work are you bringing to IAF 2018 and what are your expectations from it?

Digbijayee: 2014 Students' Biennale was my first curated show and it gave me an immense exposure and confidence and also an opportunity to interact with various students and young curators from across the nation. In the last four years I have participated in many exhibitions in India. However this is the first time that I am going to showcase my works at India Art Fair. I have entirely engaged with the work 'Land of Apparatus' which I have created for IAF 2018, a large three-dimensional work constructed with paper that conveys a sense of familiar monotony through graphic repetition of form and colour, and a spatial exactitude that is reminiscent of architectural and machinery drawings. I hope it would be appreciated from the viewers across the globe. I am heartily thankful to Anant Art for representing me and giving me an opportunity to showcase my work at IAF 2018.

Land of apparatus

Title : Land of apparatus

Digbijayee's works will be on view at India Art Fair 2018 from 9th -12th February.

For more information about the Art Fair follow the link below.

India Art Fair 2018

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