A place where traditional marries the contemporary and where nature flirts with concrete is one that is bound to hold attention. Perhaps opposites do attract. And, in a city like Udaipur, they meet to celebrate various unions. As I have a quick chat with Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, popularly known as Shriji, at Amdavad ni Gufa post the exhibition opening of artist Om Prakash Bijoliya’s miniature paintings, I realize he very well recognizes Udaipur is a melting pot. Of traditions and culture, of people and lifestyles, of art and beauty. Udaipur is a vibrant city, I begin… “It is conscious of preserving its culture which I think is remarkable,” says Shriji, who anyone can tell, is absolutely in love with the idea of his city garnering all the love and attention from far and beyond.
His words of praise may be restricted, after all, there are many others across the world who have defined the city of Udaipur, known better as the Lake City, as one of the best escapes this part of the world. And, that must feel great? “You see, in the 500 years since the city was founded, it has sustained attraction; the charm and sheen is for real,” he says, matter-of-factly. I cannot but nod in agreement, adding unhesitatingly the fact that Udaipur does hold an interest for its visitors unlike many tourist-rich cities around the world that succumb to the many contemporary distractions. “It feels nice to be reassured what we are doing is in the right direction. But I am sure it is this way because of the impact of everything put together, be it perseverance, commitment or dedication to creating all that is,” he says in the usual heavy baritone.
While art and artists find easy appreciation in this dream city, it is also a favourite wedding destination. “That’s good for the economy of Udaipur,” says Shriji, following it up with a laugh, “but we need to keep Udaipur attractive, not ruin it….”
Going by the methodical systems that are in place, delicately handling culture and abiding by traditions, there is every reason the city will continue to inspire the artist within, irrespective of which part of the world they belong to. However, the Mewar school of painting is home to several artists and distinct in its style since the late 16th century. One more reason artists from regions in and around take to the intricate style.
There is a sense of heightened joy when observing and appreciating miniature paintings. For one, you tend to liken them to something original, a living person or one gone, a familiar scenario or a make-believe world, and then, interestingly intriguing is to look for details with which reality finds portrayal on paper. Om Prakash Bijoliya from Bhilwara in Rajasthan has artworks with subjects ranging from Shringaar to Shikaar, but what particularly catches the eye is the sensitivity with which each subject is detailed. Emotions are palpable in those he paints, peace is felt in their surroundings. The beauty of the women painted is such, you wish they were for real; the reflection of nature, animals and flowers only extends your desire to belong to the frame you behold. While the artist has been creating magic on paper for close to three decades now, he is also “extensively involved in restoring portraits and miniatures”. The artist’s spirituality is extended to the nature of his works and the process that involves their making.
The exhibition, organised by Archer Art Gallery was inaugurated on 17th of October 2016, and will remain open till 23rd of October 2016, between 4pm to 8pm, at Amdavad Ni Gufa.
Photographs : Ravi Panchal
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