Age-old miniature art meets popular culture

Aeroplanes drop missiles, ferocious bulls get set for a fight and a baby falls asleep…All of this happens in canvasses, not more than nine inches long and seven inches wide; these are miniature paintings by artists Raman Adone, Vidhyasagar Upadhyay and Roy Thomas. Over 100 miniature paintings and two bronze sculptures are on sale at Ripple, an exhibition, organised by Contemplate Art Gallery, in association with ArtEstate, Kochi.

Featuring more than 40 artists from across the country, the exhibition displays sketches that handle diverse themes including nature and social affairs. The images of a palm, lotus and broom, symbols of three important political parties of the country, share the canvas of Vijaya Raghavan, a New Delhi-based artist who has exhibited in Biennials across the country. The symbols rest on a pile of rubbish.

Vijay says he “employs popular culture motifs to bring out the pains of urban development”. Actor and politician, M.G. Ramachandran, sporting his trademark glares, surveys you from Vijay’s painting. Another work of his has a fish, caught in a net, listening to a gramophone.

Many of the paintings are surreal and quirky. The painting of a man with beaks seated on a bird with a human face catches the eye. It is by Rajendra Kapse, who hails from Maharashtra.

Urban scapes seems to be a favourite theme. Suchit Sahni captures the mad rush of the Indian cities by depicting the cars and rickshaws in bright neon colours. Nandi Apurva’s glass frames thrum with festivity and faith. They capture snapshots of Ganesh visarjan. One of them shows an immersed Ganesha surrounded by thousands of devotees, neck-deep in water.

“These art works carry so much depth and information. It is amazing how the artists have managed to represent so much within a small space”, says Jayashree.S, an architect.

The artists have also blended different forms of media such as digital art and craft. Gireesh G.V., a cinematographer and trained painter, has married photography and art . The black and white snaps of Taj Mahal and the back waters of Kerala are displayed in glass frames.

And Diana Mohapatra, a New Delhi based artist, uses satin flowers and sequins on her images. Some of the artists have even used wooden bases to draw their colourful sketches.

“It is interesting to see the way these artists utilise space”, says Sai Vivek, another architect. “We have a history of miniature painting in India such as the Mughal and the Rajasthani paintings. Most of them narrate stories. However, these paintings are abstract. Miniature art is contemporary and new. The exhibition is a great introduction of this genre to us,” he says.

The exhibition is held as a part of Kovai Vizha, at Contemplate Art Gallery, Avanashi Road, till February 14 (Monday to Saturday), from 10.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

The paintings and sculptures are priced between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 40,000.