Sunday, August 28, 2016

Donated my work to CRY

 "In a country of more than a billion, a large number of #children suffer from high #malnutrition rates, poor sanitation and other issues including #childlabour. According to statistics, #India is home to the largest number of children in the world and it has 20 per cent of the 0-4 years’ child population of the world. Being a #mother, I understand the needs of a child. I always wanted to help the underprivileged children in some way but did not know how to do it. But then I got in touch with #CRY for one of their noble initiatives of sourcing art from prestigious artists. I readily agreed and wanted to do my part by contributing through my artistic skills so I thought of creating some work for CRY. I hold CRY in high esteem for long and am proud to have been associated with the organization. I'll be more than happy to participate in similar initiatives for CRY in future," Vidushini Prasad, Artist
You too can #doyourbit at
#madhubani #art #painting #motherandchild

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dedicated to World Elephant Day 2016

Posting one of my creations and dedicating to World Elephant Day 2016. 

Pl post, if you have created any Madhubani with Elephant as the theme and support the cause.

Background: On August 12, 2012, the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.

 The escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are just some of the threats to both African and Asian elephants. Working towards better protection for wild elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants and, when appropriate, reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries are the goals that numerous elephant conservation organizations are focusing on around the world.

World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.

Support World Elephant Day so that we can continue to be a collective voice speaking out on behalf of elephants!

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Fabindia at Phoenix City, Bangalore has decorated one of their sections with a Madhubani created by me

Monday, November 02, 2015

As politicians wrangle for votes, Mithilanchal’s heritage wallows in neglect

 | TNN | Nov 2, 2015, 11.12 PM IST

Women painting a silk saree at a village in Madhubani.Women painting a silk saree at a village in Madhubani.
MADHUBANI: Politicians in Bihar have given a miss to the rich cultural heritage of the Mithilanchal region over decades, though the state has basked in the glory of Madhubani paintings, acclaimed globally.

Successive governments in Bihar have also ignored the heritage of renowned Bengali writer Bibhuti Bhushan Mukhopadhyaya, whose native house — visited by famous shehnai player Bismillah Khan and classical singer Ram Chatur Mallick in the heart of Darbhanga town — now lies in ruins. A number of Bengali films were based on Mukhopadhyaya's works and his book "Kushi Pranganer Chithi'', translated as `Kushi Pranganak Chithi' in Maithili, was also included in the curriculum of Bangla literature in schools and colleges in Bihar and West Bengal.

At village Ranti in Madhubani district, the 'jantra' painted on the wall of the drawing room of national award winner Godavari Dutt is mesmerizing. Vibrant and colourful, the painting, depicting man's connection with Nature, reflects the rich culture of the region which had grabbed global attention decades ago.

"It took me several months to make this painting," said the octogenarian, who now, due to her failing health, finds it difficult to walk. Dutt has travelled with her paintings to several countries, including France and Japan. "This painting is our cultural heritage and is done in every household in this village and Jeetwarpur, where many famed painters, including Padma Shri Sundari Devi, have lived.

She rued that though the paintings had done very well in the national and international markets, painters couldn't reap benefits as the government failed to streamline their marketing. "Middlemen are minting money by selling our work nationally and internationally while we are paid a pittance for our hard work," she said, adding the government should at least fix rates for sale of the paintings.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Tribal Art Paradox

The appreciation of folk art as 'art' is just skin deep, says Gargi Gupta of DNA as she discusses the destruction of a Madhubani painter's mural 

  • MuralMural by Madhubani artist Ganga Devi that was painted over

The recent destruction at Delhi's Crafts Museum of a large mural by Ganga Devi, a pioneering Madhubani painter, strikes at the root of the paradoxes surrounding tribal art today.
On the one hand is the lack of appreciation — the bureaucrats' disregard for a large, important work by an internationally-acclaimed artist, a Padma Shri awardee no less. Ganga Devi's mural was, according to Jyotindra Jain, the former Crafts Museum director, who first flagged its destruction on Facebook, "the only example of a complete iconographic rendering of Mithila's kohbar ghar". (Kohbar ghar is the nuptial chamber which would traditionally be covered with paintings depicting auspicious and fertility symbols. Madhubani paintings even now depict motifs ofkohbar ghar murals.)
Besides, its tragic history — it was one of the last works she executed while undergoing chemotherapy for cancer — added to its importance. According to Jain, "Ganga Devi used to weep due to the painful treatment and had painted the chamber to occupy herself with something she found creatively engaging." Undoubtedly, had it been a modernist master — Husain or Souza, for instance, instead of Ganga Devi — a work with such a poignant back story would never have been painted over in a thoughtless "modernisation" drive.
There has been a growing market for Madhubani and other forms of tribal art in recent years but it's mostly for small works, churned out in bulk by artists who've renounced the painstaking, traditional methods for modern, quicker methods so they can keep prices at the Rs1,000-2,000 levels.
Prices, even in auction (art auction house Saffronart has had a dedicated sale of folk and tribal art since 2012) where large works by senior, important artists come up for sale, have remained low, barring a few exceptions like Gond artist Jangarh Singh Shyam. At the recent Saffronart "folk and tribal art auction", for instance, a work by Baua Devi, an early exponent of Madhubani painting like Ganga Devi, sold for Rs 42,900, less than its estimated high price of Rs 45,000.
But over and above these, the Ganga Devi episode reveals the more fundamental paradox of Indian tribal art. Traditionally, these paintings were part of the artists' daily lives — they decorated their walls with them, re-touched them when they became faint and when they had completely worn out, the walls would be repainted and covered again with art.
This changed in the 1960s, when under the likes of arts administrator Pupul Jayakar, artists J. Swaminathan and Bhaskar Kulkarni, and American anthropologists Raymond Owens and David Szanton, those like Ganga Devi were persuaded to switch to paper. That gave their art-works longer shelf-life and mobility, and brought prosperity as well as new identity as artists.
But as the destruction of the Crafts Museum mural shows, the appreciation of our folk artheritage as "art" runs only skin deep — until the next renovation when the officials think nothing of destroying another lot of art-works instead of finding ways to preserve them.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mural Copy Promise after Whitewash

Telegraph story based on a release issued by the Ministry of Textiles:

Our Special Correspondent
New Delhi, Sept. 15: The textiles ministry today announced that a "rejuvenation project" was in progress to "preserve" exhibits and artworks to the "maximum extent possible", days after whitewashing a mural by iconic Madhubani artist Ganga Devi at the capital's National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum.

The media release also "clarified" that an "excellent collection of works", including Ganga Devi's Cancer Series, was "well conserved" as part of the museum's collection.

It would be given its "due place" in the galleries, once the rejuvenation work is complete, the release said.

The Cancer Series refers to the four works of Ganga Devi, painted on paper, while she was being treated for cancer at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in 1989-90. The works depict the detection of her illness, delay in getting treatment and her journey to Delhi.

All these themes are painted in the Madhubani style and are displayed at the NHHM museum.

The Cancer Series does not include Ganga Devi's famed Kohbar Ghar or Bridal Nuptial Chamber murals that the artist, who passed away in 1991, had painted between breaks in chemotherapy sessions. But the entire room was painted over during the "rejuvenation project", on since the last few months.

Textiles minister Santosh Gangwar said a replica of the lost work would be made in the same room.

"We will get people from her place (north Bihar) who paint in the same way. They will paint this room again to restore it. We are seeking advice on how the works we have can be preserved. Walls with murals begin to crack 10 to 20 years after they are completed."

Former NHHM director Jyotindra Jain wondered how an artist's work could be replicated. "It is not a question of any painting. It bore the signature of an eminent artist named Ganga Devi. If you replace it, it cannot be called her work," Jain said.


Ministry of Textile Press Release Reproduced:

Government committed to conserve original concept of Crafts Museum

Work of late artist Smt. Ganga Devi is well conserved in the Museum Collection

The Ministry of Textiles wishes to clarify that the Government of India is fully committed to conserve the original concept of the National Handicrafts & Handlooms Museum and to preserve the exhibits and artworks to the maximum extent possible.  It is in this spirit that the Rejuvenation Project is being implemented.  The Government welcomes suggestions in this regard from all quarters.

It is further clarified that an excellent collection of works including ‘Cancer Series’, by the late artist Smt. Ganga Devi, is well conserved in the Museum Collection; it will be given its due place in the Museum Galleries, once the rejuvenation work is completed.

The National Handicrafts & Handlooms Museum was set up in the year 1956 and was moved to present premises in year 1979-1980. Keeping in view the need for upkeep and maintenance of the structures, Rejuvenation Project was planned in the year 2010.  Implementation of the Rejuvenation Project is being supervised by an Advisory Committee which has several eminent persons from related areas.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Erasing Ganga Devi and the Idea of Mithila

Article by Amita Sharma, knowledge editor at Financial Chronicle

There is a strange, sil­ent irony in the way the political party heading the national government is wooing Bihar’s votes and the nonchalant manner in which the national government has demolished an iconic cultural imprint of Bihar — a painted chamber with beautiful ceiling-to-floor murals by ren­owned Madhubani art­ist, the late Ganga Devi. This single demolition, part of a modernisation plan at the National Crafts Museum, says many things — all of which negate the public narrative of the national government to uphold Indian culture and tradition. At the very outset, it interrogates the idea of museumisation that first decontextualises art in the name of preservation and then erases the same art to usher in modernism!

In Delhi’s crafts museum Ganga Devi had created a kohbar ghar, the room where marriages are solemnised and consummated in Bihar. The tradition of Mithila wall paintings survives from the epic period. Tulsidasa’s Ramcharitamanasa describes the Mithila painting decorated for the marriage of Sita and Rama. Gauri, Siva’s consort, desired to participate in the actual marriage ritual and to paint the kohbar where the sumangalis had to perform songs and related rituals for the couple. Replete with mythology, folk themes and tantric symbolism, the central theme of a kohbar painting is love and fertility. Executed with prayer, it invoked the blessings of the gods into the house.

Madhubani paintings exemplify the integral relation of art and life, where life functions and creative art are inseparably intertwined and there is no dichotomy between the sacred and profane. Although Panini, drew a distinction between artists — the rajashilpi or craftsman employed by the court and the gramashilpi or village craftsman, in the Indian tradition, an artist is understood as participating in the divine pro­cess of creativity. In Hinduism, Vishnu’s thousand names include being an artist. In Islam, allah is also musawwer, the artist. Man, god and art are inseparable. Art is not removed from everyday life, it reflects a world view. This whole world view gets erased in the tho­ughtless erasure of Ganga De­vi’s Madhubani murals.

Ganga Devi represented a painting tradition where wom­en are at the centre, and of which, they are the sole custodian. More than art, the Mithila painting for them is a script in delicate line and vivid earthy colours through which they communicate with their men and the world. Originally, an art form practised by brahmin women, then the kay­astha and still later dalit wo­men, Madhubani shows how art creates a parallel history of social inclusion. Does a ‘modern’ museum delete a three thousand-year-old tradition that empowered women thro­ugh its artistic idiom?

Madhubani artists have also responded to new market demands by transferring their traditional work on walls to diverse materials exploring new themes and forms, exemplifying the in­imitable modernity of Indian folk art.

Awarded Padma Shri in 1984, Ganga Devi placed an ancient folk art on a contemporary, international horizon, moving beyond the limited vocabulary of symbols and images, to investigate the unlimited potential of line drawing and incorporating the ‘brave new world’ in paintings as America series, Moscow Ho­tel, Festival of American Folk Life, and Ride in a Roller Coaster. She demonstrated the power of an Indian village artist to mythologise contemporary urban symbols. Is erasing Ganga Devi’s painting the tribute to Bharat? Is there an equality in the government’s treatment of an artist and a craftsperson? If this work had been Jamini Roy’s in a Kalighat pata style, would the museum have thrown it out?

Ganga Devi channelled her personal agony -– desertion by husband, poverty and cancer in painting the museum chamber in between her chemotherapy, creating pathbreaking works such as the Cancer series capturing the avarice of money-grabbing village quacks and the loneliness of hospital rooms. Fine, exquisite lines sketch her visits to doctors, the stretcher she lay on, and the medical tests she underwent.

Maybe Ganga Devi’s indomitable will and talent came from her birthplace Mithila, one of the first kingdoms of eastern India, where Rama, prince of Ayodhya and incarnation of the Vishnu, married Sita; where Buddha and Mahavira, founders of buddhism and jainism, respectively, and scholars of Sanskrit learning such as Yajnavalkya, Vachaspati, Gautam and Kapil were born. In Parijataharanamahakav, a classical Sanskrit epic, Krishna tells his beloved Satyabhama, “Th­is is Mithila. Here in every house, Saraswati dances with pride on the tip of the tongue of the learned.”

Ironic, that a museum sho­uld be so history-less at a time when the government asserts its pride in India’s ancient past and more, seeks a mandate in Madhubani the land of ‘forest of honey’. The Taliban and the ISI demolish their art deliberately as ideological statements. The wh­ite wall that replaces Ganga Devi’s Mithila art — whose ideology is that?