Purva, an ongoing exhibition in Bengaluru, shines a spotlight on varied Indian folk art
Gond, Pichwai, Kalighat and Phad might be dying art forms from different parts of India, but the efforts of a handful of connoisseurs are bringing their beauty to the masses. Purva, an exhibition of Indian folk art organised by Art & Beyond, is currently underway in Bengaluru.
Founded eight years ago by Sadhna Menon and Survika Chowdhary Bhalotia, Art & Beyond serves as a conduit between creator and collector; the exhibition seeks to strip the snobbery surrounding art and showcase traditional Indian art in a manner that makes it accessible to everyone.
“We are trying to create a sustainability within the artists’ communities. While many are brilliantly talented, they lack the acumen or opportunity to promote their work,” says Sadhna Menon, adding, “At the same time, we are trying to break the intimidation associated with art, encouraging people to enjoy and appreciate the artwork even if they don’t buy the pieces.”
According to Sadhna, the reasoning behind curating the Purva collection is to highlight the exquisite diversity of ancient Indian art. “Whether it is a pichwai, a kalighat or a miniature, they are all unique and different from each other. Another fascinating aspect of Indian folk art is the use of natural pigments, fruit and vegetable extracts — red from pomegranates, purple from flowers, rice powder for white and soot for black,” she says.
Some of the art forms featured at ‘Purva’ include Kalighat paintings by Rup Sona and Sumana from West Bengal; Gond art found in Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh and Odisha, presented by Hiraman Urweti and miniatures by folk artist Abhishek Joshi as well as Phad art which are scroll paintings from Rajasthan and creations of the Santhal tribes of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam.
Mukul Joshi, an artist from Rajasthan whose Pichwai works are on display at Purva, hails from a family that has been creating Phad art for 700 years. “Pichwai is created on cotton cloth and was originally meant to decorate the area of the temple behind the idols of Lord Shrinath. Though silk and paper can also be used as a canvas for Pichwai art, they are not too durable. Cow and lotuses are common motifs, while natural colours and 24-carat gold dust are applied via brushwork,” says 38-year-old Mukul who began painting at the age of 18, creating both Phad and Pichwai paintings.
“Though they are traditional as far as their composition and subjects are concerned, the execution and colour palette of these artists’ works is contemporary. Hopefully, an increased awareness of the affordabilty of these indigenous art forms as a wedding or house-warming gift, will encourage artists.
With prices ranging from ₹ 2000-₹ 31,000, Purva by Art & Beyond will be on display at MKF Museum of Art, Lavelle Road, Bengaluru till November 28, 2021.
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