A collection of Badri Narayan’s watercolour paintings exhibited at Mon Art Gallery, Calcutta, shows that man’s primal interest lies in narration of stories of his common folk.

6th January, 08,Calcutta. If you wonder what has happened to the tradition of folk painting in India, you should take a look at Badri Narayan’s watercolours on paper- they belong to the cultural history of a tribe which is slowly getting buried as technology renders cheap reproductions of the same in every part of the world. As an art historian, one must take the trip of going back to the cultural unconscious of the folklore that  Badri Narayan’s works so clear evoke. There is no sense of mystification in his art which one encounters normally with big sized oil or acrylic paintings. The simplicity and detail in each painting much comes from a distinct choice of the medium and subject- its also important to see the collections from a different perspective- it is the “acts of enunciation” of a story on a 12’’ x 16’’ paper that appeal us more than the actual content or theme. By choosing watercolour as the medium, the artist journeys back in time and space into the world of the greatest love poet of Bengal, Chandi Das and his ritual partner, Rami; kinnoras and kinnoris. The traditional pot painters of Murshidabad, Raghu Rajpur, Rajashthan also use natural dyes in a similar way the artist has used watercolour and pen on paper.

A painting that shows two ascetic man and woman dressed in saffron robes walking by the riverside carrying a pot of flowers in their hand, is both charming, lucid and mystical. There is an empty boat on the left side of the painting that creates a sense of a much awaited mystical journey across the waters. It is also placing of characters and arrangement of objects in a painting that much constitutes its aesthetic appeal- its seducing quality. Here, in the above painting, the man and the woman carrying a pot of flowers for a ritual offering is not the main focus but a secondary leitmotif that prepares us for the main focus-the sight of the boat on the extreme left. The boat is the one that ferries across the two shores of the river knitting a tie between the narrator (the artist) and the observer (the viewer); between this painting and other paintings; between the subject of painting and the act of painting.

After all, it was a priviledge to attend the exhibition of one of India’s higly respected and eminent artist, Sri Badri Narayan. Born in 1929, he is a self-taught artist who has explored several mediums such as painting, mosaic, ceramic tiles and printmakings in woodcut and engravings. He received the National Award in 1965 and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1987. The collection on display of Badri Narayan’s painting is what MS Manju Sethia, Director, Mon Art Gallerie has with her for the last four years. It is a treasure trove for all art lovers and art historians.


For any info on this article, please contact Joy Roy Choudhury at e.aryans@gmail.com or call at : +44 75073806595 & +91 9830067159




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