Crossing the arid landscape of Rajasthan, one of the most stunning Pichwai paintings ‘Kamal Kunj’ (56 ft) made in Nathdwara graced the palatial hall of Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) in Mumbai.
The wonders of the pichwai cast a divine spell on the visitor owing to its fine details and charming natural colour tone. Nathdwara artist Suresh mentioned about one of the largest pichwai paintings that is currently at the centre — it took eight months of diligence to complete the sprawling 27 x 57 ft work of art replete with dancing peacocks and lotus flowers.
With depictions of seasonal festivities, clouds – a 90-piece set of stainless steel structure mirrors by Yayoi Kusama was displayed on the ground.
Located along the banks of the Banas River against the backdrop of the Aravalli Hills, Nathdwara is a piece of history whose charm has only grown with time; a muse for every art lover.
Suresh Sharma is also the founder of the ‘Artists of Nathdwara’ — an association of the artists who are descendants of the Vaishnava sect and reside behind the Shreenathji Temple in the ‘chitrakaron ki galli (artists’ street)’ — is behind this introduction of pichvai form of art to the global stage.
He reveals that it’s a tradition in the town for artists to start working on their individual paintings when they turn 14. This is an attempt at becoming independent.
In the recent past, especially after the founding of the artist association, Pichwai has received great attention. “Earlier, the sale of our paintings would be limited to the temples and dharamshalas (charitable houses) in Nathdwara. But now we see orders from shops in and around Rajasthan, and the online market too has been a boost to sales.
The pichwai art employs the use of natural colours, the same ones that were used 300 years ago, Suresh notes. “There was a process followed for the colours. Ingredients such as mud or neel would be ground on stone and then strained, followed by mixing with gum to get the right consistency. Then shades of the colour would be prepared.”
This dramatic pichwai represents mangla, the first of eight daily darshans at the Haveli of Shrinathji. This work depicts Shrinathji dressed for the warm summer months in a lightweight garment with stunning, yet comparatively minimal adornments.
These paintings exhibit a whirl of emotions and a sense of calm to anyone who sees them.