Madhubani art is the flavour this season

Folk art

Madhubani art is the flavour this season

There is nothing like a beautiful Indian folk art form to bring pleasure to the eyes and joy to the heart. Muktadhara, the West Bengal Cultural Centre in Gole Market, recently hosted an exhibition of over 50 Madhubani paintings that attracted art lovers from across the city.

These were created by acclaimed Madhubani artist Navita Jha, who originally hails from Bihar but has been residing in Jalpaiguri district of North Bengal for many years now.Rural women of Mithila region in Bihar have been using natural colours to create vibrant images of deities, folktales, human figures, flora and fauna on the walls of their huts for centuries.

These serve the purpose of decoration on both ordinary days as well as occasions like marriage, Holi, Diwali etc. During the 1960s, the Mithila women started painting on paper too to create an alternative source of income. Mithila Art, also known as Madhubani Art, has since gained international fame and popularity. 

Jha learnt the nuances of Madhubani art from her mother and has been carrying forward the folk tradition in this remote border area of Bengal for the last 30 years. Her paintings are a delight to behold. True to the art form, there are singular central figures such as nature-inspired peacocks, parrots, elephants, fishes etc., with a dense design of leaves and flowers filling up the rest of the canvas. Then there are the iconic figures of deities – Ardhnarishwar, Ram-Sita wedding, goddess Kali with a garland of human heads, Hanuman and Ganesha.

Madhubani is characterised by sharp strokes of pen, exuberant colours and sophistication-in-simplicity. The figures are noticeably short and stout and the eyes aberrantly large. A Madhubani can sometimes be mistaken for a child’s artwork, and yet, the skill and creativity employed raise it to the status of an ‘art form.’ Navita Jha says, “It is indeed a long journey – from the dense, hilly forests of Mithila to a busy  city like Delhi, but we are glad that Madhubani is travelling. I am glad to be an ambassador of this beautiful art form.” 

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