Deep Breath

About Jai Zaiu Ranjit

Jai 'Zaiu' Ranjit is a self-taught artist, photographer and art teacher with a career spanning ten years thus far. Always supporting new artists, young and old, Zaiu also helps people interested in art enter its world in a comfortable manner.

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Colour is an integral part of an artist’s life, especially mine. While art never featured very heavily in my childhood, I was always enthralled by colour and intrigued by my father’s colour blindness.

And of course the beauty that arises from black and white photography.

While many call these two non-colours, I beg to differ.

As I began my journey as a self-taught artist, I had to study colour from the given points of view and explore my own as well. This meant questioning the status of black and white as colours or non-colours, and what the spectrum of colours held as secrets.

From the get-go, I knew that abstraction was the path for me, giving me the freedom to explore philosophies, emotions, reactions and feelings through the use of colour, line and form. As my journey & explorations continued, I fell more and more in love with colour, and especially with black and white. Their starkness and depth held secrets and challenges that would keep me on my toes and my interest at maximum, probably until I’m dead, and I say that because I’m pretty sure I’ll still be ogling colours around me if there is indeed life beyond death in any form.

“What makes colour so interesting for you?” You might ask me. My answer is simple – “It’s what feeds the imagination.”

Every time I look at a person or object, or experience a time, place or emotion, colour is the language in which I can share what I feel with the rest of the world without having to worry about race, background, education, gender or anything else.

Now that I’ve introduced you to my relationship with colour, I’d like to take you down my memory lane to January of 2016. The preceding months were intense and hectic, with emotional upheavals and professional loads putting great strain on me. I knew I had to paint something that represented my then state of mind. What I needed to do was to recoup before the next wave that life would send could hit me.

Having recently completed a large sized commission for a client, I had a massive 6ft tall by 5ft wide frame with me, something that seemed perfect for the painting I needed to create. A day of stretching fresh canvas across the frame later, I sat before the pristine surface almost like Jackson Pollock did before the massive canvas he’d stretched for the mural he had been commissioned to paint for Peggy Guggenheim.

A moment of sudden calm, and like Pollock, I was ready. My paints and brushes around me, I heard the colours call out one by one, saying “pick me”, shouted down only by the boom of “Me first” that came from the sticks of charcoal. Grabbing a stick of charcoal, I began a journey into my own psyche – an attempt to engage in dialectic with myself in order to ask the right questions in search for the perfect answers.

I slowly but confidently drew line after line, and a short while later, was staring at a figure taking a knee in an attempt to collect himself amidst what seemed to be invisible chaos on canvas, but a real one in my mind.  And thus began the deluge of colour. Strokes of bronze, sprays of red, swathes of yellow and blue filled the canvas. Hits of pink and green drew out contrast with purples and more shades of blue firing up the composition. Then came black. It sobered the fight, gave me more control and allowed me the chance to step back and take a moment – the same moment the painting was about.

I collected myself and continued painting until the day’s needs were fulfilled. A welcome break to a tired body, & a timely break for an energized mind and soul to introspect and reconsider the art.

The next two days flew past in a fury of colour and energy, stopping only to check and recheck that the painting was actually telling its truth and story correctly, or to refuel the physical machine for a short while.

At the end of the third day, I knew the painting was almost ready, but just not perfectly enough. Some things needed changing, some things needed to be added. A day or two of stepping away from the painting would do the trick, and it did.

At the end of that week, of painting with renewed vigour and ideas, the artwork itself was complete – ready in its truest form to tell its story without doubt.

“Deep Breath” is what I called this monster of colour and energy, a painting that drew me into mixing shades of colour I never would have done under most circumstances, giving me the power to express without words what I was feeling, going through and hoping to emerge from, unscathed.

To be unable to have colour at my disposal would mean a form of expression that would leave me unable to speak with even the knowledge of a thousand languages. Without colour this artist laments that he would not be able to tell the world how he feels and what he’s experienced.

Colour is an integral part of this artist’s life, and forever will be.


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