Vibrant strokes of creativity

Pichwai artist Sisir Soni's work. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan  

Classical, folk and tribal brush strokes paint a collage at Dastkari Haat with images on paper, canvas, papier-mâché, cloth, clay and grass, telling stories old and new, in patinas ancient and edgy.

Mythology, gods and goddesses , toys, puppets, fantastic lions, tigers, birds and flowers, or even a mood and a motif are brought to life by the artisan’s blending of creativity with colour.

One can see it everywhere. In the hand-twisted pink and orange ‘mooj grass’ dustbins made by rural women of Bhadoi in UP, the jewel-toned clay mobiles and spotted parrots hanging from the trees in the Kalakshetra ground, the brilliantly coloured puppets, tie-and-dye dupattas, the charming blue and black pottery and in the Gond art canvasses, Pichwai’s lyrical colours, Phad and Madhubani paintings.

Gond artist Sukhram Maran of Patangarh village near Bhopal fills his fierce lions with vivid blue and orange stripes. His orange and black barasingha deer have green leafy trees coming out of their horns. The tigers, birds and peacocks are drenched in colours filled with tiny black dots, which seem to give them texture and movement. This is the ‘dhulichitra’ of the Gonds, which adorns the walls of their huts. It tells stories of mythology, and as Sukhram says, of “the tigers and deer, which still roam in our jungles.” But why orange lions and coloured snake? “How else can one see the world,” counters Sukhram. “Also, it is our parampara”.

Sisir Soni, Pichwai artist from Udaipur, stands beside his wonderful antique Pichwai, done in mellow mehndi green shades and featuring a bejewelled Shrinathji in a field of lotus flowers. “I have made the piece using all the old techniques,” he says. “We first starch cotton cloth of the required size and stick it to the floor. This is used as a canvas. Stone colours and gold leaf is used in the painting. The back ground is filled in and coloured first followed by the clothes, while the faces are done last. The dupattas, chunris are almost transparent with the ghagra’s prints showing through the veil. This is the result of shading, which is done last.”

The artist’s repertoire of antique and new Pichwais in captivating colours includes a lyrical frame of a cow feeding a calf, Shrinathji surrounded by dancing cows and a ‘Swapna Swarup,’ where the half faces of Radha and Krishna merge to create the pictorial image of just one face - that of Shrinathji.

The Madhubani artisan’s take on colours is expressed in ultramarine blue, bright orange, green, yellow and black. Stories from the epics and local legends, festivals and marriages, the flora and fauna of the region are depicted in the typical style of the art form. Dastkari Haat has on display Madhubani art saris and wall hangings, as well as the art depicted on papier-mâché and decorative objects.

One can see the charm of Phad art on frames with unusual green backgrounds, black and white expressions, as well as traditional depictions in bright red, orange, blue and black. Apindra Swain gives a new canvas for Patachitra: a fan painted in the art’s style. There is much more on offer at the Haat all expressing the value of handicraft and the colour they bring into our lives.

The Dastkari Haat is on at Kalakshetra, Tiruvanmiyur till February 2.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 8:23:25 PM |

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