(February 19, 2022) It’s never too late to discover the artist in you. Anjini Prakash Laitu, 80, picked up the brush and palette at 60. Today, he wows the world and goes by the moniker Colourman of Dubai. After working non-stop for four decades, Anjini decided his retired life would be for himself, and his deep love for art. He did play with colours on fabric for years, but within the confines of his home. The simmering desire to become a well-known Indian artist kept nudging at him. His second innings in life involved pursuing art – His vibrant paintings, which are full of life and colours evoking positive vibes. Exhibited in the UAE, India and Nepal, this late bloomer has found his true calling.
Even at 80, Anjini loves his brushes, canvas and colours so much that he paints around seven-eight paintings a month. He has participated in exhibitions in Dubai, Jaipur, Mumbai, Nepal and Qatar and has regularly displayed his works at World Art Dubai, one of the biggest international art events. “I am also a member of the prestigious Emirates Fine Art Society. Dubai has given me so much love and respect for my work. I have also been honoured with the prestigious Golden Visa from Ministry Of Culture Dubai,” he beams with pride.
Colours inspired by Mathura
Growing up in Mathura, Anjini’s love for colours began there. “My parents got us colours during summer holidays to keep us engaged. I never missed a chance to experiment with colours,” Anjini says in an interview with Global Indian.
Shantiniketan in West Bengal was a place where he dreamed about honing his skill and artistry. However, he couldn’t pursue his dream as his parents, (from an academic background) had a dim view of art. “My father was an electrical engineer and mother, a teacher. Those days painting was not a noble profession. So my parents did not agree,” recalls Anjini.
A different route
Bidding goodbye to the world of colours, he studied for a diploma in paper technology. He began working as an apprentice at a paper mill in Yamuna Nagar, Haryana, where he worked with the Thapar Group for 37 years across various locations and positions.
The year 1996 brought with it the opportunity to move to Dubai to work for a glass bottle-making company, which is where he retired in 2001. Reinventing himself after retirement, he got back to his first love – art. “After my retirement, I did fabric painting with some Dubai designers, but the desire of being called a qualified Indian artist remained deeply embedded in my heart,” adds the artist.
Rise to stardom
He pushed the pedal and enrolled in Sharjah Art Institute in 2005 to hone his artistic skills, and became a “certified” artist within three years. In no time, his work started attracting art lovers.
It was the Arab Cultural Club that gave him his first break for two solo exhibitions, one exclusively for canvas and the other for textile paintings. “This was when I entered into the art community as a fully qualified painter and there was no looking back,” he chuckles.
Anjini doesn’t believe in rules in the world of art. “I have been a painter who doesn’t believe in mathematics of 2 + 2 = 4. I advocate full freedom when we talk about art. My paintings should pass on positive energy, therefore the use of bright colours to make them lively. It’s also why I am lovingly called ‘Colourman’ in art fraternity,” the Indian artist explains.
All through his working life, he kept his passion for art alive by painting motifs inspired by nature on dresses, shirts and sarees. “During the 60s, Fevicryl and Camlin started fabric colours. I experimented a lot with them. My wife preferred wearing only my hand-painted sarees. This made me quite an experienced fabric painter,” he adds.
In Dubai, he got the opportunity to work on fabric painting with some of the biggest names in haute couture like Akee and Walid Attalah. Shirts, denim, belts and shoes, had his customised motifs on them. Recently, he showcased his hand-painted saree collection at a fashion show at Dubai’s floating hotel Queen Elizabeth 2. “I am happy that painting is not my livelihood. I paint for my pleasure and happiness. Rest is a bonus and reward,” he smiles.
Love for MF Husain
The legendary MF Husain greatly influenced Anjini. As a youngster, he would often travel from Yamuna Nagar to Delhi to meet his idol. “Either in Dhoomimall Art Gallery or Open Coffee House at Connaught Place. Fortunately, I also got a chance to meet my ustaad in Dubai when he shifted his base to the Middle East,” he adds.
Three-four hours of painting daily, his weekends are for family. “I am also very fond of cooking, especially meat, or paani puri, dahi vada and some fusion dishes,” says the painter who likes a game of billiards once in a while.
“My plan for 2022 is to take part in the upcoming World Art Dubai and exhibit my new works on canvas and a fashion show of my hand-painted sarees,” the Indian artist reveals.
He’d like to leave his paintings to the next generation. Learning new things eggs him on, and he feels it’s important to let people, especially youngsters pursue their dreams, instead of waiting for decades like he did.
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