This man could draw in his dreams. He breathed upon paper.” That's what art historian B.N. Goswamy had to say about the 18th Century painter Nainsukh.
Recently, art lovers in the city gathered at the National Gallery of Modern Art to listen to professor Goswamy's illustrated lecture on the artist. ‘The unbearable lightness of drawing: the painter Nainsukh and his work' was the first in the lecture series organised by Tasveer Foundation.
Nainsukh was born into a family of painters in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh. He left home to follow Maharaja Balwant Singh of Jasrota and tracked the king through his paintings, capturing some of his most private moments. Prof. Goswamy showed a painting where the maharaja was getting his beard trimmed. As the professor talked about the bond Nainsukh and Balwant Singh shared, the drama of the 18th Century in the hills unfolded through the illustrations.
Prof. Goswamy illustrated the painter's works from the Rasmanjari and Ragamala series.
He narrated the story behind each painting and decoded them by drawing attention to the minute details in the miniatures.
It is not easy to track a painter down through the course of history. But Prof. Goswamy pursued Nainsukh for two decades, following his works from his village to Jasrota and Haridwar. He met his descendants and visited the places he visited. “I was drawn to the idea of pursuing Nainsukh from very early on. I decided to make it my business to follow him,” the professor said.
Most of Nainsukh's works are scattered in different parts of India while some are abroad. Prof. Goswamy has assembled close to a hundred of Nainsukh's works, from which a selection was illustrated at the lecture. He has even written a fictional diary of the painter, which resulted inNainsukh, a film directed by Amit Dutta and produced by Eberhard Fischer, that was screened on the occasion.
Says the professor: “Sometimes I see myself as a contemporary of Nainsukh. I feel his breath, I feel what he was going through.”