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  Life   More Features  10 Nov 2019  Fine lines

Fine lines

THE ASIAN AGE. | SEAN COLIN YOUNG
Published : Nov 10, 2019, 12:24 am IST
Updated : Nov 10, 2019, 12:24 am IST

The intricacies and the use of bright colours is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this style.

Fruit sellers
 Fruit sellers

Madhubani might have been a typical small town in Bihar if it wasn’t for the treasure the place possesses — the namesake style of art that originated here. The intricacies and the use of bright colours is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this style.

Traditionally, Madhubanis consist of scenes involving gods and goddesses from Indian mythology. Artist Neelkant Choudhary too paints divine subjects, but the divinity is what he sees in women and femininity. Hence, his recent collection of paintings is under the banner of Feminine Divine.

Neelkant points out that Madhubanis are mostly created during rituals and marriages. “In Madhubani, you have bright colours and very fine lines — the paintings are very flat and don’t have any tones or dimensions,” he says, describing the main characteristics. He further elaborates,  “Earlier it was done only in the household and only using vegetable dye. Now it is done on paper.”

An art-form of immense technique does come with its fair share of challenges. The artist elucidates, “The rules are very strict — I can’t go beyond them. When you do it traditionally, the first thing I’d avoid is using the colour black when painting for a marriage.”

Coming to the subject matter of his artwork, he iterates, “As we say, mothers are divine. And, every woman is a mother. Divinity is associated with the mother and the child,” he says. There is a sense of intrigue he finds in capturing women as his subject. He adds, “To me, a woman is very beautiful and mysterious — it’s the only subject I want to paint.”

One certainly notices the positive vibe in the artist’s paintings. “I think there is positivity if you do something with a good heart and Madhubani happens to be a very lively style of painting,” he explains.

His inspirations range from the Yakshini sculptures of Madhya Pradesh’s Bharhut caves to the rivers Ganga and Yamuna and the Devi Mahatmya. But what is fascinating to see is how he combines these inspirations to produce a work of art. He continues, “I never do a painting on mythology without reading about it.”    

On being different when it comes to the subject matter, he comments, “I am not deviating from it (the traditional Madhubani) — I am just adding more to it.” Speaking on the intrigue associated with the style, he says, “It comes very naturally to me because I was born in Madhubani and all my life I have seen the paintings.”

He concludes the conversation by leaving a message for the you, the readers. He says, “Divinity is not in temples but everywhere — you just have to see it.”

The exhibition is ongoing at Gallerie Ganesha till December 3.

Tags: madhubani, art exhibition