Friday, November 16, 2007

Chitralakshana-musings on a centuries old art.

Disclaimer: The title has nothing to do with an ancient treatise on art by nagnajit or later treatises and neither has a connection to a recent book by Mulk Raj Anand. It has been given in the sense of its original meaning.

Art- in any form is to be experienced by the beholder and none other than the seer himself can help him do so. Innumerable art forms exist in variety and spread. It could be a cloistered one or a clichéd one. In this post I get down to a specific art form, "Tanjore painting". From my association with it for about 10 months I can very well rephrase it as "Tanjore work" rather than painting.

The art form is more than 500 years old though the oldest paintings that survive now are atmost 250 to 300 years old. It has mindboggling intricacies to it right from the process of board preparation till its completion. The process itself takes up space to be described and hence I am not doing it here.

The aesthetic part of the work is what attracted me more because there are people whom I found complain that the art form is a time-tested one and is far away from realism. There is big hue and cry now-a-days that Indian aesthetic aspect has declined and one can hardly find it among the masses. This is true because of various factors but I am reminded of ‘Kolams’ and rangolis in this context. An addition to this list can be Tanjore paintings(though costlier).

The proceeding of the work amazes the artist himself.Every next stage adds beauty to the work. Sticking of jaipur stones(on the sketched board) followed by creating embossing effects render the painting beautiful. Later comes the gold foil work(22 carat ones). You feel like seeing your painting now and then. The last stage involves colouring. It uses colours that are pleasing to the eye and there are a few traditional combinations that often occur though not mandatory.

The themes were restricted to Hindu deities and puranas (which I think is the best possible thing because it adds a sanctity to the art and suites them well) though now it is being extended to many other themes. Some of the very common themes are Vennaithaazhi Krishna, Radha and Krishna, Krishna in various postures, Lord Shiva, Godess Parvati and Lakshmi and many others. I found a unique collection of Lord Shiva Tanjore paintings in a book published by the Koviloor mutt that deserves mention here. It has all forms of Shiva and his tiruvilayadals.
Image : This is my first tanjore painting(before framing..... and I used Chettinad frame for it)
It is popularly called as " Pendant Krishna"

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