Art

Paint it, drape it

The sari now turns into a canvas, as artists paint their masterpieces on these elegant drapes. NAVEENA VIJAYAN has the details

Dutch Post-Impressionist artist Van Gogh’s work on a Kanjivaram sari? City-based National-award winning artist V.V. Ramani has replicated Starry Night, one of Van Gogh’s most popular works in 1889, and Paul Klee’s child-like drawings on the pallus of silk saris. He now plans to sell his works. Meanwhile, a young brand by the name Yaashna by Madurya Srikanth is bringing out crop tops and palazzos with centuries-old Kerala mural designs painted on them, Delhi-based Pratham Creative Pursuits is reviving Pichhwai paintings on linen, and Bangalore Boutique Hand-Painted Sarees recently showcased a Dussehra-special blue muga cotton with the painting of the Mysore Palace on it.

Traditionally, the six-yard drape has always made for an extensive canvas for designers to present their creativity on. The oldest paintings are probably the Kerala mural works, inspired by ancient frescoes in the temples of Kerala, and the Madhubani paintings that narrate the stories of Radha and Krishna, and Rama and Sita. “Most of the designs were done on white saris, and mostly on the pallus; what we are trying to do is break away from this. Not all of them prefer white saris, and not all of them wear the sari unpleated. So we have tweaked the traditional mural art on fabrics to make it more accessible to youngsters,” says Madurya, who started her label Yaashna six months ago. “My mother-in-law is an artiste, who does mural designs on canvas. She also did a six-by-eight-feet mural canvas of Radha and Krishna as a stage backdrop for my wedding. Later, she painted mural designs on my sari and on my husband’s kurta, which we wore to a friend’s wedding. Quite overwhelmed with the comments, I got back and decided to make more such saris along with my mother-in-law,” she says.

Yaashna’s collection, while taking inspiration from murals, doesn’t restrict itself to the traditional motifs of creepers, flowers, animals, birds, Krishna and Kathakali faces, but also includes unconventional designs of lamps, pots, instruments, jewellery, and more, rendered on tussar silk, jute silk, soft silk, Chettinad and silk cotton and more. “For example, we have painted motifs of jhumkas and manga malai on the pallu and borders of a greenish-purple sari,” she says.

Meanwhile, Mumbai-based Shatika is reviving the over-3,000-year-old traditional Kalamkari art that originates from the regions of Machilipatnam and Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh, and Madhubani art, which is native to Bihar. According to their blog, the Madhubani hand-painted silk saris come in fives styles — Bharni, Katchni and Tantrik portray gods, goddesses, flora and fauna, and Godna and Gobar depict the daily life of people.

While most designs in the market today are screen prints of the hand-painted motifs, given the cost factor (print saris are much less expensive) and maintainability, hand-painted drapes have a charm of their own — each piece is a work of art, just like any painting, says Ramani, whose Van Gogh and Paul Klee creations were part of a show he organised recently as a tribute to the master painters.

Having said that, creating each piece takes time. “Each sari takes around 25 days. This is because we need to wait for three days for the paint (acrylic) to completely dry before applying the next coat, so that the colours do not smudge,” says Madurya.

“Also, unlike the canvas, which usually has a stand and a fixed mechanism to hold it, painting on a sari requires one to plan the spacing, and what portion to clasp and hold at a time. It is challenging, but the best part is you can play around with the colours and the strokes; it doesn’t have to be an exact reproduction of the work,” says Ramani. “I have also done paintings on stoles for a client abroad. Wearing clothes with the works of Van Gogh and Paul Klee would turn a lot more heads there than they would here because people can identify them,” he says.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 4:12:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/Paint-it-drape-it/article16635793.ece

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