Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#DORIGHT- Our Folk Art & Artists deserve much more!

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?

Image sourced from
Theirs is a saddening sort of tale, the scene at the artists' households of almost all the PattaChitrakaras or artisans in the village of Raghurajpur, in the Puri District of Odisha. 

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?
This has been their story until now. If we wish it could be just the first HALF of their story. There are a few like TATA CAPITAL who have realised that it is time to DO RIGHT and has triggered an initiative in the same name. Their vision is truly commendable on how we can ammend all that has been so wrong until now. We really can lend a hand in putting things right for the artists and their hard-working family, by following through on what Tata Capital has proposed. We could all be the catalysts of that change in their story henceforth. The other half of their story could bring them better times, if WE the privileged lot decide to make it so!

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

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!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Religious Indian art goes spiritually symbolic.

         We believe we are an entirely new generation of artists, with all new sensibilities acquired in this new Millenium. However when it comes to art, we are still very deeply rooted in our age old traditions. If not mimicking or following it entirely, we are still strongly influenced by the cultures and traditions of our land or even by the master artists of the bygone eras. We all have our source of inspirations and then what we connect with the most, we depict it on our canvas or express it through our own choice of media.

The history of Fine Art in India, has predominantly seen the influence of Hinduism - the product of the fusion of the Aryan culture with a healthy helping of  the Dravidian culture, which may possibly also include a dash of the Indus Valley Civilisation too. The massive pantheon of Gods personifying natural powers came from the Aryans. Indra-the king of Gods, Varuna- the God of the oceans, Vayu or Marut-the God of the winds and so on and so forth. Through fusion with the earlier inhabitants of the Indian Peninsula, two primary Gods came to be chiefly propitiated, them being Vishnu & Shiva while the other deities slowly began to be given lesser importance. 

ARTIST: Sampath Kumar 
SIZE: 12” X 12”
MEDIA: Acrylic on Canvas Board 

Fanaticism consequently brought a major divide leading to the formation of two main sects. The cult following through personal devotion came to be known as Vaishnavites & Shaivites. Each camp of artists adopted their own iconography. Lord Siva has thus been depicted ever since time immemorial with the typical Trident, the bull and the holy Lingam within the temple precincts. Also particular poses and gestures became significant like Lord Shiva's famous Nataraja-the Tandav dance stance, etc.

Including my own self, there are numerous artists that draw heavily on Hindu iconography. Each in their own style, and palette of vibrant colours appeal to our Indian sentiments. Over the years however its been strongly felt that people have risen over and above caste, creeds and sects and appreciate such mythological art for their artistic beauty and the vibrant warmth,it brings into the ambiance its placed at, also lending it a personality. 

According to artist Sampath Kumar his 2nd SHIVA series have been created with a strong preference for spirituality in its raw form than merely believing in the boundaries of country and religiousness. 

 Lord Siva has grown to be a universally accepted form liked by one and all, religion no bar. Paintings of Siva now reflect more of spirituality than religious symbolism alone.

 Sampath Kumar explains "I try to bring out the spiritual aspect of the subjects chosen and always try to understand light and sound, IN and around us. Inner peace is all I seek through ART.

"Art for me is the nearest doorway to unlock the mysteries of life." Sampath Kumar concludes.
ARTIST: Sampath Kumar 
SIZE: 12” X 12”
MEDIA: Acrylic on Canvas Board