Sunday, May 15, 2016


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Telling Tales of India: National Museums Liverpool World Museum Show

It is indeed a great delight when India is showcased in museums abroad and the delight is made sweeter if you are associated with that initiative. The culmination of a multi-year, multi-artist project with National Museums Liverpool collecting 'contemporary traditional art'  was the stunning show titled Telling Tales of India which featured artists Pushpa Kumari ( Madhubani Art),  Kalam Patua    (Kalighat painting), Mantu Chitrakar ( West Bengal patua art), Nankushia Shyam ( Gond Art), Paresh Rathwa ( Pithora paintings), Ganesh and Teju Jogi ( Jogi art) as well as Sonabai Rajawar amongst others. 

Enjoy the following write-up from the Museum website

World Museum opens its gateway to India in new exhibition

World Museum will be bringing a piece of India to Liverpool this month, with the opening of a new exhibition exploring the role of storytelling in Indian art and culture.
Telling Tales, opening 24 May 2013 until 8 Sep 2013 will showcase the work of seven artists, portraying the traditional and contemporary stories of the country in a vibrant and colourful setting.
From large-scale paintings of village life, to terracotta horses, photographs and video material, the exhibition will offer a colourful, exuberant and exciting insight into 21st century India, immersing visitors in the sights and sounds of the country.

Friday, October 31, 2014


It is very fascinating to see how artists from traditional genres like Madhubani /Mithila Art or West Bengal Patachitra respond to current issues and events. Pradyumna Kumar is an award winning artist who  works in the Mithila Art tradition but has imbued it with ideas of his own. He was working on the idea of pollution in response to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan going on in the country and this is what he came up with - the idea of the scant respect we pay to our environment, the pollution and garbage we create at every step, every turn.

The work is extremely detailed and one can spend a lot of time looking through the work to pick up visual clues that show how Pradyumna's mind was working when he did this drawing. Enjoy

Tuesday, October 28, 2014



Mantu Chitrakar is no doubt an accomplished scroll painter having just won the Award for Excellence from the World Crafts Council ...but from the first time I saw his work, his tiger chaukas have been  one of his strengths. In earlier times, the scrolls were never sold as they would be used by the patua as he travelled from one village to the other, singing out the scroll song. Once the scroll got old and damaged, it was put to rest in a pool of water or a river, the songs and beautiful drawings erased forever, returned to the Original Maker, the Original Singer, the Spirit that animates the whole world. The patua artists however did make some images for sale - these were the square chaukas which were typically single image paintings of Gods and Goddesses. Mantu made the chauka format his own drawing the most powerful and beautiful tiger images. Always the tiger seems to be barely restrained by the material, so animated and dynamic as though it is going to jump right out ..enjoy these tiger chaukas by Mantu.

 And don't forget, Bengal was once home to thousands of tigers - no wonder it is called the Royal Bengal Tiger ...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mantu Chitrakar wins an award

So so pleased to announce that Mantu Chitrakar, one of the artists I have promoted for the last 15 years has just won the Award of Excellence for 2014 from the World Crafts Council Asia Pacific Region. Mantu is a wonderful scroll painter from West Bengal and a great singer too, often composing songs for the scrolls he makes on contemporary topics such as female foeticide and terrorism. Thanks to the work we do to promote traditional artists, his works are now part of the permanent collection in prominent museums such as National Museums, Liverpool, the American Visionary Art Museum and the US Library of Congress. 

Mantu worked in my home on the last few panels of a magnificent patachitra he submitted to the World Crafts Council. This scroll is based  on the Santhal story of origin and I helped him by writing about it. I got a chance to click some pictures while he was working take a look at an award winning scroll. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

The End of an Era: Mahasundari Devi

The story of how Mithila art reached its position as one of the most pre-eminent folk arts of India is tied to  two tragedies .  Mithila painting  is an art form practiced by  women in the eastern India region bordering Nepal and was for several centuries, a private ritualistic art done on the walls of homes and certain objects. The first was an earthquake in  1934 - William Archer , the British administrator of the region was awe-struck by the beautiful paintings revealed by the damage caused to homes by the earthquake. He came upon walls filled with beautiful imagery and was inspired to document these with the help of his wife Mildred Archer. Both of them also highlighted the existence of this art form to a world that had no idea such art existed.

The next tragedy was a severe famine in the late 1960s which forever changed the course of Mithila art. For the first time in the history of this art form, the women were encouraged to create works for sale to generate income for the families no longer able to farm their lands. The All India Handicrafts Board provided the paper and paints  and several women began transferring what had been a wall art located  in a particular context to non-contextual artworks on paper. This transition also resulted in many men  becoming artists in the tradition.

Mahasundari Devi was one of the first women to create Mithila painting on paper. She along with Ganga Devi, Sita Devi and  a few others helped to create awareness about this painting tradition. She travelled extensively in India and abroad, demonstrating how Mithila art is made and took part in several regional, national and international art exhibitions. She also help nurture the talent of many younger artists including her grand-daughter Pushpa Kumari who is one of the internationally known Madhubani artists of today . The recipient of  many national awards, Mahasundari Devi was a very humble and gentle soul and her delicate art works reflect her simplicity and creativity. She will be deeply missed by many including me as I had the privilege of meeting her and spending time with her. With her passing away, an era of Mithila painting has come to an end.