Jyoti Sahi was born in Pune in 1944. His mother was a Christian from Britain and his father was a Punjabi Hindu.He had his training in art by Sudhir Khastigir , one of the early deciples of Rabindranath Tagore in Shantiniketan. He further studied art in London at the Camberwell school of art and craft. He returned to India and taught art. He specilises in Indian Symbolism and Theology. He is also known for Hindu -Christian dialogue through art.
Curatorial note on Jyoti Sahi's paintings
THE SPIRIT OF A PLACE
By John Fernandes
Space – Place
Human beings need ‘space’ to live and to relate themselves to others. ‘Space’ denotes that where ‘nothing’ is. But it is space which enables anything/one to be present to another thing or person.
When ‘space’ is occupied by things and persons, then it is a ‘place’. Human life is related to a place. One is born in a place, grows up there or spends many years of life in a place. That is one’s home – ‘native place’. On a smaller scale, it is a house and its surroundings, on a wider scale it is a locality, a village/town or a region. One relates her/himself to this place, belongs there.
Landscape – Inscape
Stand on a hill top and look around; stand on the sea-shore and glance around. A ‘landscape’ streches itself before you: hills and valleys, rivers and lakes, fields and forests or animals and people, houses and roads, or water – the ocean: waves, boats, fishing activity. This is a ‘landscape’.
An artist, relates her/himself to this place/landscape. The way humans relate themselves to the outer landscape is their inner landscape. Jyoti Sahi calls it ‘inscape’. Paintings of an artist are an expression of the ‘inscape’ in forms, colours and symbols. A viewer can relate to the painting by sharing the ‘inscape’ of the painter.
The Spirit of a Place:
When you relate yourself to a place, or a landscape, it becomes ‘alive’ to you. You see all things in this place as inter-connected, a harmonious whole.
That which binds all the things together is the ‘Spirit of the Place’. It gives the place a ‘face’, a character. The inner spirit of an artist communes with the spirit of a place and expresses itself in a piece of art – a painting, a song, a dance.
There occur changes in a place– ‘development’, which can be for the better, – more flora and fauna, sustainable development; or for the worse – deforestation, ground-water-air pollution, extinction of animal species. The spirit of a place can suffer or die. Ruins of a house or of a mandir, arid earth, burnt out landscape are results of the dying spirit of the place. An artist responds to this process and gives expression to it through his paintings. Among the exhibited works of Jyoti Sahi we have beautiful expressions of the living soul of a place – The Bird and the Nest
Tribal Mandonna and Madonna with Jasmine Flowers.
Note how the spirit of a place comes alive here.
There are also powerful depictions of the dying nature –
Forest with Dead Trees
Ruins of a Holy Place etc.
Art and Spirituality
‘Spirituality’ is the inner attitude and vision of a person towards the totality of reality. Primal religions and their symbols are an expression of this spirituality – a close bound between nature, humans and divine.
An artist expresses his inner attitude (inscape) to the place, the landscape, and the society in which he lives. Jyoti Sahi says his art is his ‘Sadhana’, his spirituality. His relation to the Divine, to Jesus Christ, is expressed through his relation to nature. The life and death of Jesus are related
– to the living nature: The Drummer
Fish with Tree of Life
Sign of Jonas
See how the life of Jesus Christ is depicted through symbols of nature.
– to the dying nature: The Way of the Cross Mountain of the Crosses,
Death and Burial of Jesus,
– and also to the Cosmic Christ: the Lamb and the Tree of Life,
The ‘spirit of a place’ and the ‘spirituality’ which underlies the works of Jyoti Sahi are given expression in these 24 paintings in the Exhibition. This booklet reproduces many of them. The viewer is invited to enter into the spirit and be touched by the ‘spirituality’.
John Fernandes is the professor and Head of Chair in Christianity, Mangalore University and also the convener of Dharma Samanvaya