August 7, 2014

Sketchnotes: Jit Chowdhury

By Anusha Narayanan

The mind of an artist is a box of puzzles and their voice, their hands, or their words often are the tools to solve those puzzles, putting the pieces together. Some prefer music, some write, some dance and some sketch, but they all share the same experience – of having told all their untold stories by that one act of indulging in their art. Kolkata-based Jit Chowdhury is one such visual artist who uses sketches instead of words, “As I flip through the pages of my sketchbook, I often discover the firmness and strength of my likings and opinions about matters I may not be necessarily vocal about, but it shines through in my illustrations. I have realized that when I visualize, I’m uninhibited and it’s the language I’m most fluent in.” For him, opening his sketchbooks is like opening the pages of an old diary, which you once poured out your heart to.

a cat that plays it both

Armed with the mission to tell the story of the ordinary men and women in an extraordinary manner, his sketches cover a range of themes, from politics to dark humor through illustration. Why such a fascination, we wonder, to which he explains, “Though dismissed as ordinary, I love glorifying their actions and behavior in my sketches as anything but ordinary, making them the protagonists of my compositions.” Sexuality is an oft-portrayed theme as well, involving situations and characters with sexual connotations and, at times, a blatant imagery as an experiment to trigger a reaction from the viewers and observe their perception of things.

aimlessly wandering ape nude

“The observation woven into a story which manifests in the visual form, dictates the appropriate materials to be applied. The visualization decides the tools, so I often switch between mediums to help bring out the desired look and feel that the illustration demands and sometimes even to break the monotony”, he articulates, flipping through the water color and pen & ink rendered art works, sometimes fusing the two to create a blended form. Maintaining a handwork only approach to his work, he says, “Only when I need to upload them online, I rely on basic software’s such as Illustrator and Photoshop to crop, clean and color correct the image.”

Satisfaction vs desire


Having studied from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore where his influences early on included the work of his peers, mentor and seniors and the experimental artists he stumbled upon in the city. Works of J.M.W. Turner, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Klimt, Roald Dahl, Ronald Searle and Satyajit Ray always inspired his wavering mind. Jit set up his studio in Kolkata from where he works on freelance projects including book illustrations, graphic design work and visualization and conceptualization assignments. Stacking up the sketchbooks one on top of the other, his passion remains his favorite pastime. “My hometown Calcutta and its many facets also continue to be a source of constant inspiration. However, I really hope to find the time to travel and sketch and in turn document the stories that unfold in the process.”

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