Just stroll down this gallery to experience the epic

Just stroll down this gallery to experience the epic

For someone who thought reading Ramayana was a tedious task, a walk along the Vismaya Art Gallery at the Rangoli Metro Art Centre on MG Road could be enlightening. A 55-metre-long scroll painting depicting the epic will be put up on display for art lovers from Monday.

Take a stroll down the gallery to understand Ramayana. Each episode has been painted on the long canvas cloth by a family of six hailing from Gujarat.

This is the third generation of the family that has been nurturing this art form. Bhanu Dudhat, his wife Prabha Dudhat, Kailash Dudhat and wife Anamika Dudhat, besides their six-year-old son and Bhanu Dudhat’s mother work on the scroll painting for months before it is ready to be exhibited.

Bhanu Dudhat (66), who conceptualized the idea of a ‘scroll painting’ initially sought help from his mother and wife. “When the idea came to my mind, I thought I might need more people work on it as it was not a single piece. It was then that my mother and wife began supporting me. My mother was a quick learner,” he recalled.  For Bhanu, paintings which do not convey a message impress him the least. With a keen interest in Indian culture and history, his idea was to make it more appealing to the masses. Individual pictures, he thought, had no connectivity. And thus originated the idea of a scroll painting.

“There is a similar form of art in Ajantha, Maharashtra. I thought, why not have the same on paper,” said Bhanu. The family began painting on strips of canvas paper that was later attached together to form a single roll.

The same was later incorporated onto canvas cloth. The Dudhat family was not very well to do initially and the canvas was purchased as a loan from an art enthusiast. “It has been a long journey. It was in 1981 that Air India had purchased one of these paintings for Rs 8,000 and from then on, there has been no looking back,” said the artist.  An Italian architect who had thrown open a challenge for an artist to fill the walls of the Sanskar Kendra in Ahmedabad with art, was in for a good surprise when the scroll painting extended even beyond the walls of the hall.

Similar paintings of the Bible (120-m long), Mahabharata (1,200-m long), life of Mahatma Gandhi (55-m long) and the history of Kashmir (55 -m long) are among the other paintings that the family has crafted.

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