Rang Rasiya: Delhi’s tryst with Raja Ravi Varma’s colours

January 16th, 2009 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) The soon-to-be-released movie, “Rang Rasiya”, on the life and works of Indian art icon Raja Ravi Varma by Ketan Mehta, has brought the focus back on figurative and realistic art - at least in the capital. “Krishna - A Romantic Fantasy in Peacock Forest”, a solo exhibition of 21 figurative paintings by Delhi-based artist Raghu Vyas belonging to the Raja Ravi Varma school of realism, will try to capture the essence of Varma’s “Indian themes”.

The exhibition, to be hosted by Ragini Arts, will open at the India Habitat Centre Jan 28 following a preview Jan 17.

“I have always been inspired by Raja Ravi Varma’s school of realism. He is the icon of Indian art and the movie ‘Rang Rasiya’, whose release will more or less coincide with my show, will send a definite message to the country that Raja Ravi Varma’s figurative art is on the high screen. It marks the revival of Indian realism and figurative art,” Vyas told IANS.

Vyas likes to describe his art as “imaginary realism”. “It is realistic and figurative, but born out of my imagination,” he said.

The theme is Lord Krishna and the “bhav” is the feminine aspect of the lord. “I have used peacock as the central motif and peacock feathers in the background because peacock was a sakhi (female companion) of the deity,” said the artist, a Krishna devotee.

Vyas has used the European Renaissance technique to layer his canvases with colours and “the light of imagination to conceive his themes”.

Born in Basholi, a small town in Jammu and Kashmir, Vyas has been influenced by the Pahadi miniature paintings.

Delhi in ball pen

Amid the din of the 11th annual theatre festival under way at the National School of Drama (NSD) in the capital is a surprise treat - tucked away in a green corner.

An exhibition of 27 etchings and sketches, “Drawings: Through Challenging Medium”, by H.V. Sharma, an NSD alumnus, is a throwback to the company art of the 19th century - when artists meticulously documented slices of life and history during the British Raj, to preserve it for the generations to come.

The drawings, in big and miniature formats, are intriguing because of the artist’s medium. Sharma uses the down-to-earth ball pen instead of ink, pencil and charcoal to capture his snapshots of the capital and its diverse crop of inhabitants.

The compositions - mostly still life studies of buildings, walls, forts and people - stand out for their details, tracery of fine lines and play of light and shade.

Made over a period between 1970 and 1980, the drawings include glimpses from the countryside and the city like “Huts to Yield Place”, “Ancestral House”, “Imperial Hotel”, “Tilak Bridge”, “Amidst the Babool Trees”, “Khooni Darwaza”, “A Tomb in Hauz Khas”, “Shahjahan Suri’s Mosque”, “Firoz Shah Kotla”, “Safdar Jung’s Madrasa”, “A door in Tughlaque’s Mosque”, “A Part of Humayun’s Tomb”, “Masjid Khairatulmanzil” and a “Tomb with Weeping Plant”.

Two figurative sketches - one a line drawing of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and a man with spectacles titled, “A.P.J. Abdul Kalam” and “Spectacle/s” respectively - throb with life.

Sharma, who earned a diploma from the J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai, learnt the art of portraiture from Naik Singh Gill. Sharma shunned traditional materials, tools and techniques in favour of the ball pen on thick white paper.

“Of the many objects that I see, some are not defined by shape, colour and texture. These call my attention,” Sharma said.


Mahatma on canvas

The online auction platform, Saffronart, and 12 leading Indian contemporary artists will explore the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, affectionately known as Bapu or the Father of the Nation, in a
month-long exhibition curated by Gayatri Sinha.

The exhibition will be held at Saffronart’s gallery space in Mumbai Jan 15 to Feb 15.

The exhibition, called “Bapu”, features a variety of paintings, photographs, videos, installations and mixed media works exploring different facets of the Mahatma’s life and philosophy, and their relevance in contemporary political and socio-economic contexts.

Speaking about the exhibition, Dinesh Vazirani, co-founder and CEO of Saffronart, said, “Mahatma Gandhi’s principles and way of life continue to inspire influential public figures from Nelson Mandela to Barack Obama.

“In fact, his beliefs, values and status as a moral force for change have become more relevant against the violent backdrop of our times.”

The artists include Jagannath Panda, Riyas Komu, Surendran Nair, Anandajit Ray, Ashim Purkayashta, Gigi Scaria, Navjot, Manisha Parekh, Ram Rahman, Sachin Karne, Vasudha Thozhur and Vivek Vilasini.

“Gandhi’s ideas have always influenced my work. When I got the opportunity to create a work for this exhibition, I thought I would explore Gandhi’s physicality and philosophy against contemporary, urban structures. The work is dark, juxtaposing Gandhian idealism or optimism with darker reality,” Jagannath Panda said.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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