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Variations on the Ganesha theme

An exhibition at Mrignayanee features more than 500 paintings of Ganesha by artist Ved Prakash Sharma

HE'S QUITE an accommodating deity — apart from being almost every housewife's favourite collectible icon and being worshipped at roadside temples, Ganesha is also the preferred model for greeting cards and money envelopes. And Madhya Pradesh-based artist, Ved Prakash Sharma has made use of this versatility to create more than 1,250 different versions of the elephant god.

Five hundred of his paintings are on display at Mrignayanee, the Madhya Pradesh Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation shop. Right now, the walls of the store are papered over with Ganeshas. Every free surface is covered with Ved Prakash's paintings, done using oil, watercolour or acrylic on ivory paper. "I have more than 10,000 designs in mind," says the artist, who has applied for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He's done extensive research and reading on Ganesha and launches into an intense explanation on the background of every painting. On some of his paintings, his signature extends to form a mouse.

The collection of Ganeshas in shades of green and copper is exceptional. The lines are fluid and the colours striking. These are done in oil on German ivory paper. Other collections that stand out are the Ganeshas done with single strokes of the brush in red and ochre and the bright depictions of dancing Ganeshas. He claims to paint a picture a day. Green dominates his work because he believes it is the colour of prosperity. "Red and orange are symbolic of courage and sacrifice, but Ganesha is predominantly the lord of prosperity and the remover of obstacles. I believe green signifies peace and prosperity," explains Ved Prakash, who comes from Vidisha near Bhopal and studied art in Mumbai and Delhi. He's also done a line with `Om' as the theme. With slight variations the incantation `Om' turns into a pretty Ganesha — there's also one done with the Tamil `Om' as inspiration. Ved Prakash has turned lingams, conch shells, swastikas, flowers and even hands into appealing Ganeshas. The sheer number and variety of Ganeshas is fascinating. A few of the paintings are a little ungainly, but the exhibition is worth a visit just to appreciate Ved Prakash's imagination and to marvel at the versatility of Ganesha.

Prices range from Rs. 450 to Rs. 30,000. The exhibition is on till this evening (September 2), after which Ved Prakash Sharma and his 500 Ganeshas travel to Vijaywada for another show. Mrignayanee is at the TNHB Complex, 180, Luz Church Road, ph: 24985497.


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