There has been a spate of art events & festivals in Jaipur within the last two years. Having visited Jaipur Art Summit consecutively for the last 3 years along with a few other art events in Jaipur, I have given a miss to many others because of the paucity of time. So what attracts me to art? Well, I have no definite answer. I’m surely not an artist but yes I do love art in any form. All handcrafted items need to be appreciated beyond money; creativity and effort cannot be measured with just money. I heard about Jaipur Kala Mahotsav taking place in Shilpgram at Jawahar Kala Kendra. This was the first time I heard about Kala Mahotsav. There are a couple of art exhibitions organized and supported by Lalit Kala Academy, Jaipur.
For those who have never heard about Shilpgram, it’s an open air area meant for exhibitions and events at Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur. What makes it unique is that the entire set of Shilpgram replicates the setting of a village complete with huts, a well, and a community area. During the last few years, owing to a change in the management at JKK this area was closed for events. It was an unpopular move. Fortunately, Shilpgram is now available for such events.
When I walked around the Kala Mahotsav, it seemed like an event organized for painters because most of the booths were all about paintings and canvas. It was buzzing with energy with young artists all around. Many colleges were also participating to showcase their art students.
This write-up is not about the event or pictures. I met two artists and was impressed with their contributions to the art world.
Let me introduce Sunil who was busy creating what he termed as “something”! His energy left me awestruck. I inquired about his creation which kept him busy. Sunil told me he was creating a replica of a soldier. “Why soldier?” I asked. He replied in an instant “Because I wanted to serve in the army but I was rejected owing to my diminutive height”. I asked him why was he using the space near the entrance and why not a booth? I was disheartened by his answer, “I’m poor and I don’t have money to afford a booth”.
How will you make money from this “soldier”, I asked. He gave me a reply which made me think and ponder. Sunil said his motive is not money but to teach art to the poor kids; art accessible to all is what he wanted. For livelihood, Sunil undertakes photography and creates art pieces. I was impressed with this young artist’s energy!
I met Mr. Parmanand Sharma & his son, the duo artist from Nathdwara, a town near Udaipur famous for Srinathji temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. They are both painters specializing in the Pichhwai painting style also called Nathdwara style painting.
What makes Pichhwai unique is its style which revolves around Krishna in the form of Shrinathji. Pichhwai painting is a work of art that adorns the walls of a temple behind Krishna’s idol on a cloth piece. Krishna depicted in Pichhwai style is distinctly different from other art styles. Pichhwai painting has Krishna drawn with a large set of eyes, a broad nose, and a heavy body in grey-black color. Rich colors are used in this style of painting; golden is one of the prominent ones.
The family of Parmanand Sharma is engaged in Pichhwai painting for generations. Originally from Mathura in the Braj region, their family moved to Nathdwara, centuries ago along with the idol of Srinathji. The idol of Shrinathji was shifted to Nathdwara in the mid 17th century to save it from the destruction of the Mughal army. Mughal ruler Aurangzeb was opposed to the idea of idol-worship practiced by the Hindus as he considered it as anti-Islam. Therefore he ordered his army to destroy all Hindu temples in North India where he ruled.
Initially, 5 painters migrated to Nathdwara along with Srinathji but now this art engages 200 artists in Nathdwara. He also showed a picture of an intricate painting made by his grandfather which was bought by an affluent Gujrati in 1915 AD. The level of detailing was spellbinding. There is pride in what they do and surely their work is impressive. People like Parmanand Sharma are keeping the ancient art forms alive. I have seen many paintings of Krishna but there is a distinct attraction in the Pichhwai painting style. Have you ever stumbled upon a Pichhwai painting?
There were many other artists of great caliber, but I have only written about what impressed me. Every time I visit art exhibitions and events in Jaipur, I’m amazed at the things people create. Often these artists are from different cities and regions. I was on a different high. I guess I’m an art-o-holic!