Josheen Oberoi shares a note on the artist talk given by the renowned artist Atul Dodiya
New York: The Philadelphia Museum of Art recently inaugurated a new series of artist talks with a presentation by the very established and respected contemporary Indian artist Atul Dodiya. Held on February 13, the talk titled Somersault in Muddy Waters – A Creative Journey took the audience on a trip with the artist, along the many roads his work has traversed. This was an interesting journey to undertake with this artist in particular because of the diversity of his chosen mediums and the complexity of his oeuvre’s visual language. As Darielle Mason (The Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art) said in introducing Dodiya, “…his works and he so clearly bridge times, cultures and concepts…”.
Atul Dodiya Sabari with her Birds, 2005 Lithograph and Chiri Bark paper collage on paper 50 x 40 inches Purchased with the Stella Kramrisch Fund, 2007 Image credit: The Philadelphia Museum of Art
The artist began by speaking of the diverse western and Indian artistic traditions that have consciously been a part of his art. Starting with his first solo show from 1989, his talk went through the stages of his artistic processes and mediums. Self-identifying as essentially a painter, he spoke of the varied mediums he has worked in including his world famous shutters, cabinets, and watercolors. A significant component of his talk focused on the importance of Mahatma Gandhi in his life and his pervasive presence in his work, which had culminated in the artist’s 1999 series on the Mahatma titled An Artist of Non-Violence. We were also fortunately able to see a series of delicate watercolors by the artist that have not been shown in public – these are ornithological studies of birds that he said were done for leisure, for relaxation.
The Museum plans to post the talk online and I will update this post with a link when that is available. In the meantime, if you are in Philadelphia, please visit the museum. The work above, Sabari with her Birds, is part of the museum’s collection and is on exhibit for the next six months.
In conjunction with Saffronart’s upcoming auction of Indian Folk & Tribal Art, Nishad Avari shares a note on Sita Devi, one of the most important and celebrated Mithila artists
Mumbai: We have already blogged about the history and aesthetics of Mithila paintings from the Madhubani district of Bihar and traced the development of this art form back to the first record of these works in the mid 1930s made by W.G. Archer and his wife Mildred.
It was in the 1960s and 70s, however, that individual Mithila artists like Ganga Devi and Sita Devi began to be recognized and celebrated. As David Szanton of the Ethnic Arts Foundation notes, “It was paintings by Ganga Devi and Sita Devi thanks to government and private commissions in New Delhi and beyond, their national awards, and their [Government of India] funded participation in cultural fairs and exhibitions around the world, that brought wide-spread audiences and attention to Mithila painting” (“Folk Art No Longer: The Transformations of Mithila Painting”, Biblio, 2004).
Sita Devi, one of the most prominent early Mithila artists and among the first to transfer the traditional art form from the walls of the home to paper and canvas, was a Mahapatra Brahmin from the village of Jitwarpur. Her distinct aesthetic popularized the ‘bharni’ style of Mithila painting, which emphasizes strong colours over fine lines. “Sita Devi’s elegant elongated and richly coloured paintings of Krishna, Radha, and other gods and goddesses, are well known. However, she also painted extraordinary images of the World Trade Center, Arlington National Cemetery, and facades of 19th century buildings in New York City” (Ibid.).
Wall painting at the home of Sita Devi, Jitwarpur, 1984 (Image Credit: The Maithil Brahmans, an Online Ethnography, California State University, Chico)
Over the course of her long life (the artist passed away in 2005 at the age of 92), Sita Devi’s work brought critical national and international attention to Mithila art. In addition to her own artistic practice, Sita Devi worked tirelessly to develop and uplift her village and community through education and economic empowerment.
As an artist in residence at the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum in New Delhi, Sita Devi found admirers of her work in several politicians including ex Presidents and Prime Ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Indira Gandhi. In 1975, she won a National Award, a few years later, in 1981 she was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the India’s highest civilian honours, and in 1984 won the Bihar Ratna Samman. During the course of the impressive artistic career, Sita Devi has exhibited her work in more than ten countries, and finds place in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, the Mithila Museum in Japan and many other international institutions.
Works by Sita Devi from the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Mithila Museum, Niigata, Japan, and Victoria and Albert Museum, London
One of the highlights of Saffronart’s upcoming auction of Indian Folk & Tribal Art (26-27 February, 2013) is a monumental painting of Krishna flanked by two attendants by Sita Devi, created in the 1970s. Rather than paper, this painting is created on board, lending it an exquisite finish. Finely detailed with flowers and a peacock at Krishna’s feet, and confidently signed by the artist, this painting is one of the artist’s finest mural-scale works, rivaling those in international museum collections.
Sita Devi, Untitled, Signed in Devnagari (lower right), c. 1970s, Earth, oxide colours on particle board 72 x 96 in (182.9 x 243.8 cm), Saffronart Auction of Indian Folk & Tribal Art, Lot no. 41
Sita Devi presents her work of art to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in New Delhi on September 8, 1969 (Image Credit: The Times Of India Group)
Manjari Sihare shares details of an upcoming lecture by contemporary Indian artist, Atul Dodiya
New York: One of the most sought after contemporary Indian artists today, Atul Dodiya will be delivering a lecture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on Wednesday, February 13, 2013. For those in this part of world or traveling here, please save the date.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a world renowned collection, and is one of the largest museums in the United States. One of the highlights of the museum is its extraordinary holdings of nearly 3,000 Indian and Himalayan works of art. These include the 1994 bequest of the department’s former curator Dr. Stella Kramrisch, as well as renowned collector and Trustee of the Museum, Dr. Alvin O. Bellak’s 2004 bequest of vibrant Indian ‘miniature’ paintings, among others. In the recent times, the department has also brought modern Indian art to wider audiences, including when it hosted the 2008 exhibition of the work of Nandalal Bose. To learn more about this collection click here. For location, visiting details for the museum, click here.