Tradition with a twist

A model displays Gaurang Shah’s creation at the Lakme Fashion Week
With emphasis on hand-crafted works, designers and curators are moulding art into contemporary context, Swati Rai: AT the recent Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015, Hyderabad-based textile designer Gaurang Shah blended traditional Indian fabrics like RajasthaniKota,Banarasi silk, Patan patola, paithani from Maharashtra, khadi jamdani from Andhra Pradesh, ikkat from Telangana with embroidery techniques like zardosi, chikankari, Kutch work, kasuti in vibrant prints, including the sawari (elephant with a carriage). Gaurang has also created a jamdani sari with motifs inspired by the Taj Mahal, besides weaving the Panchatantra stories in a six-yard sari. When asked what is it about Indian art that inspires him, Gaurang says, “I am an ardent admirer of traditional Indian paintings. These inspire my creativity. Besides works on nature, I love temple art and sculptures.” Commenting on the timelessness of traditional art forms in textiles, Shah elaborates, “These are woven, and reflect our heritage and culture. These are heirloom pieces.” Shah concludes on an optimistic note about the future of this successful mélange of tradition and modernity, “Weavers have embraced the change while the designers are
challenging their skills. They are willing to adapt to experiments that will keep them in pace with the times. I have been able to change the design vocabulary of weavers and pushed them to do intricate patterns and textures.” “It is exciting to see craftsmen sharing the same enthusiasm that the designers feel.” He adds, “Jamdani, the art of placing suspended geometric motifs  on the surface of almost diaphanous fabric, is making a comeback. This is good news for Indian weavers.” Designers are blending the weave and their creations with a mix of ethnic and western wear that are bold and dramatic. That the appeal of tradition never dies is evident from the revival of many other traditional art forms. The latest to join the bandwagon is the pichvai form of painting, which was originally practiced in Rajasthan. Literally, the word means ‘in the background.’ These pieces of intricate artwork were used as a backdrop for Srinathji’s idols in temples. Using metallic and earthy shades executed on cloth or paper, this form of art
illustrates stories from the life of Lord Krishna. Traditionally these were done on fabric using pigment and natural dyes. These have now evolved into pieces that are globally sought after by collectors and lovers of art. Delhi-based curator and art entrepreneur, Pooja Singhal, worked for five years with artisans from Nathdwara in Rajasthan to sustain traditional skills, and ensure that these have a future. With technology, there may be more ways of accessing synthetic prints but at the same time, the appreciation and value of hand-crafted techniques has also gone up for a connoisseur. Pooja has tried to revive the pichwai by making the style more accessible to a larger audience while ensuring that the traditional techniques and styles remain alive. Besides the traditional large works on cloth, she has developed varied sizes, including smaller works that are more affordable. According to Sahil Rathore Rajvansh, co-founder of online art firm Project Art Worm, “Traditional art forms are being re-interpreted by artists. Many of them have adopted traditional art forms and methodologies to create a distinctive identity. A few examples 
come to the mind. Foremost among these is Ravinder Reddy, who primarily uses sculpture to blend traditional Hindu art with contemporary pop. Similarly, there is Thota Vaikuntam, who uses traditional Telangana motifs in his art. The women in his native village in Andhra Pradesh have distinctly inspired his works and style. Bharti Kher has made the Indian bindi as her trademark. She has incorporated the bindi in many of her artworks across various mediums. She uses this component of Indian culture to convey and accentuate the underlying central themes in her works.” With increasing interest in Indian and Chinese arts combined with accessibility, the market for specialised traditional arts like pichwais is on the rise. India not only has several distinct traditional art schools and styles but also encompasses an extremely wide timeline, which adds to the possibility of specialised collectors taking interest in traditional Indian arts in future. Source: Articel

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