Art

A glimpse of the walls of Raghurajpur

Patachitra paintings Photo: M. Vedhan   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

Each of the thirty-three frames capture the lyricism and luminosity of Patachitra art, awash with colours got from the heart of stone; from sindoor, indigo and turmeric. At ‘Jagannatha - A collection of Traditional Patachitra Paintings,’ 13 Patachitra National awardees, master artists and emerging talent of Odisha, use the imagery, symbolism and metaphors of their art form to create many subjects on a canvas made of cloth. The themes range from epic stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the eternal idyll of Radha and Krishna and the `lila’ of gods and goddesses. Sometimes, even secular themes such as a delightfully whimsical ‘Wedding of the Fishes’ with the bridal couple in auspicious turmeric yellow, a detailed rural scenario by master artist Gangadhar Maharana, a frame of musical instruments etc., find a place.

In the past, the walls of Puri Jagannath temple came alive with the music of these pictorial narratives. Today, the walls of Vinnyasa Art Gallery capture the magic of Patachitra art with its micro-mini perfectdetailing of figure, face, raiment, leaf, flower and bird within the larger picture of evocative story telling.

The exhibition has been curated by Suguna Swamy and presented jointly by Swamy and art collector Ashwin Subramaniam. The seeds of the exhibition took root when Suguna Swamy visited Raghurajpur near Puri, a village traditionally populated by Patachitra ‘Chitrakars’. She was transfixed. “It seemed to me that Patachitra was in the DNA of the people of Raghurajpur,” says Suguna. “Many huts featured walls covered with Patachitra imagery and everyone seemed to be busy painting to the occasional chanting of shlokas.” Suguna watched Gangadhar Maharana paint his ‘Hanuman: Sundar Kand.’The 6 ft by 9 ft canvas covered the entire floor leaving him no place to sit in order to paint! While the chitrakars’ passion for the art was palpable, they continue to live in dire poverty. Suguna decided that the work of the master artists and emerging artists of Raghurajpur needed exposure and the artists needed to sell their work. These were precious works of art, part of a heritage that needed to be taken forward. She collaborated with the artists, commissioned a few works and the exhibition was born. All the 33 paintings have been specially made by the artists for the exhibition.

The spectacular and the rare, the whimsical, the colour drenched and the dramatic are on display at the exhibition. Gangadhar Maharana’s masterpieces include a scenario of rural life full of vivid, intense detail while his ‘Hanuman’ is mesmerising. Bijoy Parida’s ‘Six Seasons’ is a lyrical depiction in black and white featuring a nayaka and nayika in various settings. It has blotches of orange which give it an abstract feel. Many of the black and white art works have a dramatic feel with montages of Ganesha, Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Krishna Lila enlivened by splashes of red. `Shringar Ras’ from Gita Govinda is eye catching in its bold delineation of line and colour. And all the Radha-Krishna forest idylls captivate. A southern touch is given by an artist’s rendering of lord Venkateshwara and as a salute to the art which emerged from Puri Jagannatha temple, there is a small frame of Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra on view.

The exhibition is on view at Vinnyasa Act gallery, 1st Main street, CIT colony, from January 2 to 12.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 5:35:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/a-glimpse-of-the-walls-of-raghurajpur/article6744982.ece

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