New Delh | With Christmas just around the corner, a new exhibition here retells different events from the life of Jesus Christ through the uncanny medium of pictorial calligraphy. Titled Three Wise Men to the Tree of Celebration, Journey of a Breath, the exhibition by artist Poosapati Parameshwar Raju is a narrative in calligraphy that unveils the main incidents reflecting the life of Jesus and Christian symbolism in about 45 paintings. I wanted to do something for December and I thought the best thing would be Christmas and this is in remembrance to the convent school where I studied in in Khurda in Odisha, he says.
The exhibition is on show at the Art Spice Gallery at the Metropolitan Hotel and Spa here. Raju, who started off his career in calligraphy with the written word and has shifted to pictorial calligraphy only recently, specializes in the art of Pothi writing, the traditional way of writing scriptures. Prior to this project, he has worked on several mythological series including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He is currently working on a series on the names of Allah.
Besides the representations of different symbols from Christianity like the Thorn Crown, the Tree of Celebration, the Sacred Heart, and the Cross with Bread and Wine, Raju has also depicted the landmark incidents from Christ’s life which are now marked as important days on the calendar. Some of them include the Birth of Jesus, Baptism of Christ, Jesus washing his disciple’s feet, the Last Supper, Crucifixion of Christ and his Resurrection.
The artist has on display three different versions of the Last Supper. First I made the traditional one which is supposed to be the oval table. When I was doing that, people wanted to see how it looked straight, because that is how the last supper was painted. So that’s how the other two came about, he says. To distinguish Jesus from other figures in the paintings, he has made a circular ring around the head representing the Christ’s halo.
Raju who practices the Devnagri script uses a right slant nip that has a typical character of a thin thick thin stroke. A closer look at Raju’s paintings show that all figures are made in a single stroke, transforming from a thorn in one painting to Jesus himself in another. If you go through in details, it is only one stroke- it is a thin thick and thin stroke. The way it has been manipulated is because it is more of an academic practice to see how a tool can be changed to create different images. You will see the same stroke as an angel, Jesus, Mother Mary and thorns, he says.
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