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Impressions of myth and nature

Jayashree Patankar and Alaka Bhandiwad share common experiences, but their artistic sensibilities are rather contrasting — nature and its forms, and people and mythologies.

CHILDHOOD FRIENDS and trained artists from Maharashtra, Jayashree Patankar and Alaka Bhandiwad, put up a joint show of their paintings at Chitrakala Parishat from December 18 to 22, 2002. Their friendship, common grounding, and collaboration notwithstanding, the works presented by the two artists represented contrasting styles in theme, execution, and interpretation.

Acknowledging impressionist influences, Alaka assembles her works as Nature's daunting kaleidoscope. Evidently, her primary source of inspiration comes from colourful landscapes, lotus ponds, flaring leaves, bright flowers, pregnant skies, and cloud formations. With a masters' degree in Fine Arts and experience as a commercial artist, Alaka delineates her impressions of nature's bounty with vivid use of colours. However, she cannot escape the decorative implications in her works. Interestingly, she concedes the limitations of theme and medium of her renderings as also the ingrained decorative elements. Armed with this realisation, her future works, hopefully would show Alaka relying on more internalised personal experiences than her present dependence on photographic material and memory of the sights that have been fleetingly glanced by her searching eye.

No such dilemmas for Jayashree, who is firm on continuing with her preoccupation with the series of works presented in the Chitrakathi style.

"In 17th and 18th century," explains Jayashree of her primary influence, "there was a migrating community of people called Chitrakathi. They travelled from village to village narrating mythological stories, followed by an exhibition of a set of pictures, illustrating the principal ingredients." A part-time poet, Jayashree hails from a scholarly family, which grounded her from her early days in pauranic and granthic influences.

Her father, Sripad Shastri Kinjwadekar, we are told, was an acknowledged master of Sanskrit language and well known for his scholastic achievements.

Jayashree uses her childhood influences in presenting the overwhelming mood of age-old and time-tested folklores and mythologicals, even when they are seen from her contemporary tidings. A graduate from the J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai, Jayashree works on canvas and leather, although her more solid callings in the exhibition were on paper using vegetable water colours.

Quite amazingly, the colours used in the paintings are prepared by the artist herself from flowers, leaves, etc.

In her offerings, Jayashree adds a touch of antique quality with telling effect. The ethnic look and feel worked to near-perfection in her works get further enhanced by the calligraphic intimations in the form of Sanskrit verses etched in them. Her ability and competence in narrating the stories, events and anecdotes from the epics and works like Shakuntalam are quite unique, particularly when one watches her presentation of episodes such as Pandava Pratap, Gangavatharana, and Jatayu Vadh.

Jayashree aspires to portray some modern day happenings - "Gujarat, for instance" - using the same or similar technique. It would definitely be interesting to watch her succeed in this endeavour.


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