Myriad manifestations of Lord Krishna come alive in Suvigya Sharma’s showcase in Mumbai
A 3D avatar of Lord krishna, as Vishnu lifting the Govardhan Parvat is depicted in this traditional artwork with immense detailing
Artist Suvigya Sharma has been in the news a lot lately—the portrait painter’s hyper-real renditions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharing an intimate moment with his mother, cricketer Virat Kohli’s wedding to actress Anushka Sharma, Bollywood beauties Kangana Ranaut and Rani Mukerjee and even singer Justin Bieber have made him somewhat of a celebrity himself. An enviable list of clientele who own his creations including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Dalai Lama, and Priyanka Chopra and business families from the nation’s upper echelons such as the Birlas, Ambanis, Piramals and Bajaj’s. The 36-year-old Pichwai artist is somewhat suave at making connections with the right people and is a regular on the Page 3 circuit.
A Robust Collection
But at ’Reminiscence’, Sharma’s latest showing of 127 traditional artworks at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery in Mumbai’s Nariman Point, from his career spanning slightly shorter than two decades, a very muted facet of the flamboyant artist’s persona comes through. The 127 traditional artworks are Pichwais, Tanjores, and Bani-Thani style paintings, depicting the many moods of Lord Krishna surrounded by admiring gopis, and a 3D avatar as Vishnu lifting the Govardhan Parvat for seven days and nights under torrents of rain and thunderstorms.
A Long Legacy
For the layman only familiar with Sharma’s celebrity sketches, his lineage includes R. K. Sharma, an acclaimed maestro of Nathdwara Shaili miniature paintings and his grandfather painted Pichwais as well, as a hobby. “I paint celebrities because unless you’re not commercially viable, you’re never going to make a livelihood as an artist.’’ Sharma bluntly points out.
But his heart obviously lies in being the guardian of a diminishing art form that his father and grandfather passed down to him as a legacy. He has been associated with the ‘Make in India’ campaign since 2016, uses his art auctions as a platform to raise awareness of India’s intricate artistry and trains at least 200 children every year in the painting techniques. “India’s artists are complaining about how our historic legacy of art and handicrafts is dying but that is where it ends. No one is providing tangible solutions to stop that from happening. I am aiming to get my students employed in the restorations of palaces and museums; there’s a huge shortage of trained skill in that sector,” he notes.
While the exhibition states that the paintings are miniatures, don’t expect any small frame art! “When we refer to miniature paintings in fine art, it doesn’ț refer to the size of the paintings, but the integrity of the style of creating tiny images painted under a magnifying glass, ” Mukul Patait, the curator of the collection says. There are also postcard-sized paintings on stamped paper dating back to 1922 that resemble first day covers.Traditional Pichwai art
A Beautiful Tradition
Pichwai, derived from two words- ‘Pich’ meaning back, and ‘Vai’ meaning hanging, originated in Nathdwara, a small town in Rajasthan and were used to cover the temple idol of Srinath Bhagwan, a child manifestation of Lord Krishna. Gilded in gold and ivory, the imagery still incorporates 24K gold but the latter has been replaced with elph a patented mineral-based composition and the frames use theekri glasswork. “Like any other industry, even art needs to be sustainable, ” Patait says.
With colonialism, Indian miniature painting styles grew to influence the wall frescoes on Europe‘s churches and palaces. “The Pichwai art form is perishing. Most young artists are inclined towards modern art,” Sharma explains why the cause is close to his heart. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended his support to Sharma to create an initiative to save the disappearing style.
‘Reminiscence’ runs at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery until 14th October 2018.
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