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In the pursuit of peace and solace

An exhibition of paintings by self-taught artist Rohan Pai Dhungat and artefacts made by inmates of Modern Central Jail, Colvale will be held from May 21 to May 24 at the Kala Academy’s Art Gallery. NT BUZZ finds more about the exhibition ‘Metamorphosis…in pursuit of life’, a concept that will help us to understand the undercurrent of the turbulent mind in search of peace and solace


If you learn to accept change, you have got it all figured out because change is the only constant in life.  Rohan Pai Dhungat’s art exhibition ‘Metamorphosis…in pursuit of life’ is all about change for better and is inspired from his own story. He has been serving life imprisonment for the past 12 years but he did not let that be a deterrent to his search of a better life.

The exhibition is in two parts which includes paintings by Rohan and artefacts made by other inmates from Modern Central Jail, Colvale. The artefacts such as candles, carpentry items, handicraft items, knit items, paper bags etc will be exhibited.

About 30 acrylic paintings on canvas will be on display and sale at the exhibition. These paintings are on varied theme and each and every painting is done using a reference picture from newspapers, or others he collects when on parole. “Only common thing about my paintings is change, even if it’s a simple painting on Buddha or any scenery they are not the normal ones which you usually would expect, they are more out of the way. They are more in the process of changing; there is something different about each painting,” says Rohan, who is on parole currently for the exhibition.

Though he likes to paint whatever comes his way, he loves painting Buddha the most. Rohan says: “There is a lot of thought process in Buddha. I look up to his ideals and have read a lot about him and would love to study about Buddha in detail.” Talking about how easy or difficult it is to focus while painting in jail, Rohan says that it easy and difficult too. He says: “Easy because you have a lot of time to yourself as you have nowhere else to go and the difficulty is to focus because there is stress and worries and other things on mind. Here, art is an escape for me. I get so involved in it, that it helps me cope up with everything around.”

He discovered the artist in him while he was in jail and began painting in 2011. His learnings and passion for art continued even behind the bars, he contributed to an art exhibition earlier in Goa, ‘Beyond Barriers’ an Initiative by the prison department. This is his second solo exhibition; the first being coupled with the release of a collection of his poems in 2016. Sharing how his life has changed since he started exhibiting his art, Rohan says: “I never expected to get so much of appreciation and acceptance from people for my art but these paintings and my poetry book have actually improved the relation between me and the society.” He adds that it has made acceptance quite easier and this is helping him focus on the positive. Rohan during his time in jail completed BA in English Literature, PGD in Labour and Administrative Law; Certified courses in NGO management and certificate course in Communication and IT Skills and also PGD in journalism and mass communication, all in the attempt of staying relevant in whichever place or state of mind he was.

The exhibition is organised by the inspector general of prisons along with superintendent and staff of Central Jail Colvale. This initiative is to showcase the talent of inmates to the world and allow the society a peep into the lives of the people behind bars.

(The exhibition at Kala Academy will be open to public viewing from May 21 till May 24)


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