French jewellery designer Olaf Van Cleef has added his own precious touch to artist Raja Ravi Varma prints. He has embellished four of them with crystals, gems and pearls, and they will now be sold for a princely price.
On the rare occasions when Varma’s original paintings are brought to the auctioneer’s block, they get bid for several hundred crores. “These prints will be 20 times cheaper,” said Gitanjali Maini, CEO of the Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation. “There are nearly 500 crystals and gems in each print.” The foundation will later open up its entire treasury of prints for embellishment.
Gallery-g, in association with the foundation, will exhibit the embellished prints — Laxmi, Saraswati, Ahalya, and Hamsa Damayanthi — on Wednesday.
It took Mr. Van Cleef nearly 120 hours, spread over 10 days, to complete the decorative work. “When the Paris terror attacks happened and people were saddened to be closeted at home for a number of days, I earnestly put my mind into decorating the prints of Ravi Varma’s paintings … it lifted my soul,” he said.
During Ravi Varma’s time, the focus was on the fulcrum of the subject, said art collector Ganesh Shivaswamy of the Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation.
“But what Van Cleef’s aesthetic make-up has done is help revive some of the surrounding areas of interest that usually are ignored by connoisseurs. It is the perfect amalgamation of contrasts — Ravi Varma representing the traditional and Indian, and Olaf representing the modern and European,” he said.