Painters add colour to Varna Virasat

Gurappa Chetty busy in Kalamkari art. Monimala Chitrakar displaying scroll painting. Urmila Devi Paswan engaged in Godhana painting of Mithila. DH PHOTOS/AUTHOR

Varna Virasat has seen well-known artists taking part from all over the country. About 16 artists are exhibiting their talents at the camp. The participating artists include contemporary artists V G Andani from Gulbarga, Prabhu Harasur (Tumkur), Viraj Nayak (Goa), Madhu V (Delhi), Mevada (Gujarat), Venugopal (Kasargod), Pramod Gaikwad (Bhopal), Devdas Shetty (Mumbai), Rajendra Patil (Mumbai), Rama Suresh (Chennai) are taking part in the camp along with traditional painters like Raghavan Bhonsle (Tamil Nadu), Shreehari K S (Karnataka), J Gurappa Chetty (Andhra Pradesh), Urmila Devi Paswan (Orissa) and Monimala (West Bengal).

Madhu V from New Delhi was giving final touches to a painting when this correspondent met him. He said he has been into painting after he passed out from the BFA in Painting, College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram in 1998. The Varna Virasat provides an unique opoortunity for the artists to interact, he added.

Monimala Chitrakar who has been displaying scroll paintings of rural West Bengal said she has been communicating her work to the rural folks through singing. The use of vibrant colours is noticeable in scroll paintings.

The paintings based on myths and stories from oral history. Thus deities from the Hindu God are seen in her paintings. In fact, scroll painters also serve as village entertainers because while unrolling the scrolls, they also sing along narrating the significance of the stories, with overtones of moral behaviour. Chitrakars show how art can be practiced in complete harmony with nature, without the use of toxic paints and chemicals while painting. She has conducted workshops on ‘poutchitra’ at various places including the UK and the USA.

Urmila Devi Paswan is known for her Godhana painting of Mithila. An artist accompanying her said, “originally, all these forms were ephemeral and done during special rituals, directly on the house walls and floor. In the 60s, with the help of the Indian government, the women could start to express themselves on paper or on canvas. These new media helped them to promote their art in India and many other countries. The first motives drawn on paper were directly inspired by their tattoos.”

He said before starting drawing on the canvas, they apply a thin coat of cow dung on the canvas to get a different colour.

Each painting on the canvas is a miniature art representing Hindu Gods. Raghavan Bhonsle was busy with Tanjore painting. In fact, Tanjore paintings are known for the use of gold foil and semi precious stones. He said a painting with a size of 15X12 needs one week to complete. Bigger size takes 10 to 12 days.

The Kalamkari art was another attraction at the venue. Endowed with a highly developed aesthetic sense and a flair for original design, Gurappa Chetty was producing works of beauty in Kalamkari, which attracted the attention of connoisseurs at the venue.

Chetty was seen picking up the bamboo brush with a ball of wool tied at its tip.
He then dips it in black paint made of a blend of fermented jaggery and rusted iron files. The lines soon become images of Gods and Goddesses and flowers.

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