The art of handicrafts
A craftsman’s work doesn’t have the stamp of hurried experimentation as does, say, a lot of what passes off as “pop art”. These artisans are specialists who work with limited resources, evolving slowly while keeping fine traditions alive.
Two ongoing exhibitions in Mumbai and Delhi showcase the best of Indian crafts every year.
Over the last five years, the Paramparik Karigar exhibits in Mumbai have grown bigger. This year, besides textile and artwork, the organization is hosting an exhibition of works by nine master craftsmen. Among the craftsmen who arrived in Mumbai earlier this week is Kalamani Rabindra Nath Sahu, a Pattachitra artist from Orissa, a centuries-old art form which involves intricate drawings of mythology-inspired figures on tussar. Sahu has been showing at Paramparik Karigar’s exhibitions for the past six years (the paintings on display are priced at Rs10,000-50,000).
Other art forms in the show include Gond paintings from Madhya Pradesh, Kalamkari textiles from Andhra Pradesh and Mithila paintings from Bihar, all priced between Rs1,000 and Rs2 lakh. Paramparik does not allow traders who buy from artists and sell in shops; so the money goes directly to the artists.
The focus of the Dastkar Nature Bazaar in Delhi, in its 18th edition this year, is on handmade, eco-friendly crafts. This is one of the two bazaars that Dastkar, the Delhi-based society for crafts and craftspeople, organizes every year (the other is the Spring Bazaar in February).
Two hundred organizations and craftspeople from 18 states have congregated to celebrate the “Tiger” theme this year. There are craft workshops in Madhubani painting, pottery and doll-making taught by craftspeople themselves. Products such as handmade soaps, woven reed products and assorted bric-a-brac are priced anywhere between Rs15 and Rs80,000. This year’s attractions include Hao crafts from Manipur, new Maheshwari and Chanderi groups of artists from Madhya Pradesh and Sanji craft products by Noor, an Aga Khan Foundation initiative. Martial Dhol Cholam dancers from Manipur and masked dancers from Bhutan are at hand to make the fair more vibrant.
The two-day Paramparik Karigar master craftsmen’s exhibition at the Prince of Wales Museum, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, begins today, 10.30am-6.30pm; and the Dastkar Nature Bazaar, at the IGNCA lawns, Janpath, New Delhi, is on till 31 October, 11am-8pm.
—Sanjukta Sharma & Anindita Ghose