Echoes from the Sand, an art exhibition organised by Art Tree at Bikaner House, featuring the artworks of two of Rajasthan’s most admired artists, Mahaveer Swami (Bikaner Miniatures) and YugDeepak Soni (Pichwai) is a treat for Delhi art lovers
India’s rich cultural heritage, being one of the world’s oldest civilizations, is an all-embracing confluence of religions, traditions and customs, and quite rightfully, transcends all borders. The highlight of the show also lies in the treasure of its art, architecture, classical dance, music, flora and fauna, and the innate secular philosophy of its people.
With so much diversity, more so in the very fabric of India’s pluralistic culture, it becomes all the more difficult to define art – or Indian art – per se. As a general definition, and in essence, it must provoke, stimulate and stir. Or, it must depict what is essentially Indian even if it uses modern techniques to reach out to a wider world. Thus, Indian art becomes the demonstration of human creativity and is the evolving in form or beauty that incites viewers in a vastly substantial atmosphere that encapsulates innumerable forms of traditional, folk, and modern art.
Carrying forward what is also a tradition to display art in an exhibition, a show titled, Echoes from the Sand at Bikaner House is being organised by Art Tree, and promises to be a destination for artistic luxury where the discerning audience will discover the most admirable pieces of fine art and collectibles.
Featuring two of Rajasthan’s most admired artists, Mahaveer Swami (Bikaner Miniatures) and YugDeepak Soni (Pichwai) during the 10- day exhibition that will showcase the two esteemed and decorated artists.
The organiser and founder of Art Tree Pragati Agarwal beamed with delight on the eve of the exhibition, “In an attempt at bringing forth the exquisite nature of Indian Folk Art to a larger audience, the present show by ArtTree aims to showcase the artworks that distinctly depict Indian culture and heritage with a view to helping many people cultivate a love and passion for the traditions, rituals, and other nuances associated with the some rare art forms many of which seem to be fading from public memory. It is in line with Art Tree’s consistent active efforts to promote and support extremely talented contemporary artists who are struggling to find a foothold.”
While Mahaveer Swami’s technique and style reflects his deep study of Mughal and Rajasthani miniatures using subjects drawn from the quotidian lives of men and women, as well as the lifestyle of holy men and women from Hindu mythology, YugDeepak Soni’s works display a traditional method of Pichwai works rendered in the characteristic conventional style of folk art that is native to the region.
What is Miniature art?
Miniature style of art – derived from the minium, or red lead, used by the medieval illuminators – developed as early as the late 15th century. Miniature art is fine art. Beginning from the Pala style of miniature paintings, several schools of miniature paintings evolved in India over the course of several centuries. Subsequently, arising from a fusion of the separate traditions of the illuminated manuscript and the medal, miniature painting flourished till the mid-19th century. Most of these schools were the products of the social, religious, economic and political atmosphere prevalent in different regions of India and were influenced by one another. But despite numerous inspirations that impacted many of them, it was the unique and distinctive features of each of the art belonging to different regions that helped it grow as a separate entity. The purpose is to make art available in a form that can be owned, collected, displayed and enjoyed by the widest possible segment of society. Therefore, miniature is not about drawing art in small sizes; rather, it is a form of detailed and specialty art work usually created using unconventional substances (not just paint and canvas). It takes much longer time and more detailed attention to details.
What is Pichwai?
Traditionally, Pichwai works are made on cloth and hung from walls, commemorating or narrating stories through scenes based on myths, folklore and classic tales. As an art form that has its origins in Rajasthan, Pichwai developed as a traditional Indian art that features intricate painting portraying Lord Krishna, popularly known as Sreenath ji in Rajsthan, done on fabric using dark rich hues. These colors are either obtained from coals indigo, gold, silver saffron, zinc, and other natural sources or created in brilliant colors or woven with hand blocks. Usually, the ornate part adds a texture to get the pure Gold as color. Additionally, the bright and intense colors like yellow, green, black, red dominate the Pichwai paintings.
Originally Pichwai was painted on the handspun starched cotton fabric. The artisans would then sketch the art on that starched cloth. Then the decorative and beautiful images were created. The images were then ready to be painted with completely organic and natural colors, paints and even natural brushes. These colors were obtained from coals indigo, gold, silver saffron, zinc, and other natural sources in brilliant colors or woven with hand blocks. The bright and intense colors like yellow, green, black, red dominate the Pichwai. The ornate part would get the pure Gold as color. The borders are enhanced with crystals and other decorative elements. Shreenathji’s image is given special features like a big nose, large eyes, and fat belly
Mahaveer Swami, who is one of the finest traditional artists working in India today, and is possibly the only surviving artists of his genre, uses colours and exquisite brushwork combined with unique inner vision and great sensitivity of the world around him by tempering his personal vision with finely tuned technique and rigorous discipline of his tradition. His work stands out not only because of his great skills in drawing and painting, but also because he can discern the difference between the truly fine and the mundane and has the robustness to explore new subjects, new contexts and new forms of expressions.
“I have been involved in this particular style of work ever since I was born, it seems. Having come from a family where miniature art was practiced for over 300 years, it was my dream and determination to continue with the family tradition. My work is strongly influenced by his studies of Mughal and Rajasthani miniatures, and the subject matter is often drawn from the lifestyle of holy men and women, daily life of Indian women and sometimes from Hindu Mythological terms.”
Artist YugDeepak said on the occasion, “An opulent and devotional craft, Pichwai paintings require weeks and months of joint labour in order to render the complex miniature style onto a large surface. This results in works that emboss the place of worship in the colours and sensations of the season, and imbue the air with subtle essence of young Krishna’s leela, or divine play. As with many ancient art traditions, Pichwai was intended as a way to make teachings and scriptures accessible to the uneducated. Hence, the paintings often show episodes of Krishna’s early life, and detail how he must be worshipped and celebrated.”
Both the artists are known for their creativity and detailing and are the only practising virtuosos of their respective genres. Both these art forms are extremely beautiful, rare and detailed. Art Tree in its endeavour to educate people about the finer nuances of these art extraordinaire and to nurture our coming generations with the knowledge of our heritage is showcasing these artists.
The exhibition is open from 20th September till 27th September, 2021, between 1100 hrs and 1830 hrs at the Bikaner House, Pandara Road, New Delhi.