New Delhi | The third edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale will recreate the historic tradition of pichwai paintings to suit the tastes of urban art connoisseurs.
The exhibition titled, “Pichwai Tradition and Beyond” by Pooja Singhal, at the 108-day-long biennale will showcase contemporary interpretations of the art form in a “nascent new avatar.”
Pichwai paintings, which have their origin in Rajasthan’s Nathdwara region, have conventionally been majestic and luxuriously detailed hand-painted textile works of art that narrate tales from the life of Krishna where he is portrayed in different moods, body postures and attires.
They were traditionally hung behind the idol of Shrinathji, an incarnation of Krishna, worshipped by the Vaishnavite sub-sect of the Pushtimargis that houses the shrine.
“Over the last century, intricately painted Pichwai paintings that left the shrine have taken on a new role as wall art and are much sought after by the cognoscenti for their effervescent aesthetics, inciting a fresh demand among collectors,” organisers said.
While the old religious practises continue, the art form is undergoing a “renaissance” with Singhal contemporising it in order to create a more accessible market for contemporary cultural consumers as well as offer a platform for the artisans flourish.
“Recognising the need to create a platform to support and sustain the few remaining supremely skilled painters who learnt the rapidly declining tradition from a long line of past masters,” the organisers said.
According to Pramod Kumar KG, who has curated the exhibition, traditional arts need to be re-interpreted and contextualised constantly, for them to have resonance and relevance to contemporary audiences.
“Singhal’s ‘Pichwai Tradition and Beyond’ has brought to the public eye, artworks that have been reworked with layered historical inferences in newer scales, formats and themes.
“These artworks thus have moved away from their purely religious connotations to representations of aesthetic modes, seasons, forms, colours and secular iconographies that every layperson can see and appreciate,” says Kumar.