Seated cross-legged on the floor, burning the mid-night lamp, I'm engrossed in giving the last finishing touches to my work. As I rise to appreciate it from a distance, my body aches and every bone in my back, neck seems to be thankful that I'm done with this ordeal. The pain is however easily forgotten with the satisfaction of having put away a completed assignment into the portfolio.
Thus, as a student of art,I'd realised it very early on that Art is not as much fun all the way, as I'd imagined. It is painstaking, requires a lot of patience and does not promise hefty paychecks easily.
However this understanding had also heightened my respect and appreciation for the folk artists of India.
We sit in luxurious homes on comfortable chairs with our easels prepped with all the tools possible but a traditional rural artist has nothing of the sort. Its just his passion that keeps his brush moving, dedicatedly filling in the minute and intricate details of each fantastic painting. Each painting a finer masterpiece than before!
Giving him company, learning from his experience, drawing from his inspiration, teaching one another are his other family members, the children and the aged, who hone their own art as well with equal competance.This very art for which they all toil, sadly however, does not give them much in return. They are blessed with an abundance of talent but why does wealth elude them?
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Patta (cloth)- Chitra (paintings) based on Hindu mythological stories mainly depict tales of Lord Vishnu or Lord JaganNath (an incarnation of Lord Krishna). The style of painting is narrative, painted in bold, clean and sharp angular lines. The background on which the figures are represented is dilineated with profuse flowers and foliage mostly painted in a red colour. Every painting is finished with a highly decorative border or couple of borders in varying thickness.
The flag bearers of centuries old traditional PattaChitra Kala, manage a living on measly sums of money made from the sales of their paintings. Scores of these exquisite scroll paintings are sold in the cities and this has now become a popular art form here while the artisans that made them continue to live in a very neglected state. Raghurajpur has been declared as a Heritage Crafts Village but how many of the traditional painters or Chitrakaras have directly benefited from this, monetraily? Has it helped better their lifestyle?
Primarily as an artist myself, I can feel one with the PattaChitra artists where the right to appropriate appreciation and recognition is concerned. It is very difficult to imagine being paid in peanuts after hours of back-breaking and squinting at the detailed drawings, when the output is so fantastic. When I look at how other countries from around the world are preserving and promoting their traditional art and artists, I feel ashamed that our treasure trove has not yet been given its due pedestal.
As an Art Curator I have always supported the cause of our tribal and folk artists from the different rural pockets of our culturally rich country. I have supported the tribal artists of Nagaland in the past and am now presently working on an Art initiative for the artists in J&K. The project DO RIGHT has all my support and I will be promoting this cause from my FB page https://www.facebook.com/BINGKArtCurators.
I also intend to strive to bring about a change in the trends of how gallerists operate. IndiChange needs me! That's what I was told and I therefore endeavour to be the lynchpin between the artist and his patron, by giving them a direct connect. I'm a big believer of Karma and I know what goes, comes right around and back!
I therefore now call upon the generosity of all our Art lovers and Art connoisures to support and encourage this particular form of Folk Art- PattaChitra Kala by purchasing and promoting the works of the artists from Raghurajpur in Orissa.
It is time to #DORIGHT, do our duty, give the artists what they deserve and if possible, more!