A nostalgic look, through prints, of works by painter-prince Raja Ravi Varma, on at Nanappa Art Gallery

Nanappa Art Gallery is honouring the late Raja Ravi Varma with an exhibition of prints of his works and two tapestries (reproductions of Ravi Varma paintings).

Prints? Because, says Kaladharan, that is the only way people can have access to some of the lesser known works by the renowned painter-prince.

The paintings are either in various museums (in India and abroad) or are part of private collections.

Kaladharan has gathered prints from various sources and has managed to put together 80 prints (eight sketches and two tapestries included).

Had the works been reproductions, the exhibition would have been just another show of shabby artworks (mostly hobby-types). The prints are a mix of familiar ones such as ‘Waiting for Papa', ‘Milkmaid' etc and those which most of us wouldn't have seen. There are also two tapestries by Rajeevan from Kannur.

The painstaking detail in the two tapestries (wall pieces), Damayanthi and ‘The Gypsies' is commendable.

According to Rajeevan it was quite an effort, the shades etc were tough. There was the toxic smell of the dyes to contend with everyday for almost three months. The final product sure looks worth all the trouble. The photographs of eight sketches by the master painter are particularly interesting. Kaladharan got the photographs of the sketches from a family in Kannur.

“They did not, understandably, want to give the originals and I agree with them. So they took photos of the sketches and sent them,” he says about how he sourced the sketches.

That these are just prints is one way of looking at the exhibition, but then in this instance, it is also a revisiting of what makes Raja Ravi Varma a genius, given the historical context.

The exhibition ends on October 9.