Chaos, Mischief-Order, Harmony
Jai Zharotia comes from a family of artisans from Rajasthan who migrated to Delhi several decades ago in search of a livelihood. The message of modernism by then had already reverberated across the world, manifesting itself in institutional settings of the newly independent nation — the recently initiated art schools and academies as well as the emerging museum and gallery culture. It was also a place where someone from a working class background could indeed dream of being an artist. The late 1960s in Delhi was a veritable cauldron of new ideas. It is in this milieu of passionate discussions on what the nation had to offer for the future through art, that artists of Jai’s generation came of age. Oddly enough, this was at variance with the compartmentalisation of art within the academy where “specialisation” in either of the disciplines such as painting, sculpture and printmaking, was a necessary first step to enter into the exhibitory circuits through which artists found critical success.
Transcendentalism that sought to register what lay beyond the material world was a key concern for many artists of the period. Undoubtedly, Paul Klee whose diaries were avidly read by many artists of that generation was a key reference. As a philosophical framework with its emphasis on design elements that corresponded with musical modalities such as rhythm, counterpoint and tonal variations, registered on paper and canvas with lines colour and form, visual formalism was also thought by Jai to resonate with Hindustani classical music, of which he was an avid listener. However, it was his ardor for the unique singing style of Kumar Gandharva, the maverick singer from Dewas that made him want to express himself in paint in a similar manner. The singer, who would often let loose a vocal note into the air and allow it to vibrate across space with a temporal elaboration, became for Jai a model to emulate which he sought to do by seeking a resonance with his musicality through visual devices.
Shukla Sawant, 2016