Seven artists showcased artworks and explored the theme of pravaah or flow in a group exhibition. We spoke to the artists and the curator, and learnt about the artworks.
Seven traditional artists defined ‘flow’ in their artworks at a recently-concluded art exhibition ‘Pravaah – A journey’. Pravaah, which means flow in Hindi, is often associated with the flow of water. But Pragati Agarwal, Founder, Art Tree, and curator of the show, insisted that artists encompassed several elements of the universe instead of restricting their focus to water.
Madhubani- artist Manisha Jha connected pravaah with the flow of energy, water, earth, knowledge and air.
She depicted the flow of energy through her work ‘Pravaah of knowledge’. The painting featured Buddha in the centre with living beings around him.
“I have tried to show how knowledge is transmitted to animals, humans, birds, fishes,” she explained.
The artist took also represent the flow of universe. Inspired by one of her travel journeys, she explained the concept through fishes. She also paid an ode to water using kachni style of Madhubani in ‘Monsoon’. This artwork celebrates joy the rainy season brings in the lives of humans, fishes, birds and other animals. In another artwork, titled ‘Ganga’, she narrated the story of the holy river.
“I have narrated Ganga’s story from its origination to how it got transitioned from the space to the earth to enter Haridwar and reach Benaras,” she said.
Joining her in Madhubani was Manoj Kumar Choudhary, who associated pravaah with the flow of water. The Bihar-based artist also highlighted issues pertaining to drought (Jal Bina Soona) and the aftermath of industrialisation (Jal Chakra), besides promoting the idea of water conservation (Vamaan Avatar).
In case of ‘Vamaan Avatar’, though it was inspired by Lord Vishnu, he added elements such as inverted umbrella to bring out the message of water conservation. “It’s my way of showing how small steps can make a big difference in saving water,” he expressed.
‘Jal Chakra’, his other work, built the co-relation between water pollution and its impact on the civilisation.
“The withered trees, dying birds and drought in the painting highlight the aftermath of industry-related water pollution. The elements on the bottom depict scenic views. The idea was to show how we are living today,” he said.
Water also became a muse for Warli artists Anil Wangad and Sarita Vanjara. The duo narrated the tales of Warli communities and their love for the river as well as their daily chores through tribal art.
Explaining the artists’ work, Agarwal said, “These artworks gave a glimpse of how Warli community lives and the various ways in which they utilise water. Warli is a tribal art form where the community only preaches local gods. Traditionally, colours are not used in this art form that’s why these paintings also do not carry any colours.”
Prakash Joshi connected Pravaah to the five elements of universe – air, earth, fire, water and sky. Being a Phad artist, this UNESCO-award winning artist took inspiration from Pichwai for the show.
“Since Phad involves painting local deities and does not include cows, trees, palaces, clouds and water, I took inspiration from Pichwai and combined both the art forms together to suffice flow of air,” he said.
In Panchtatva, one of his artworks, he showed the co-relation between the five tatva or elements. “The semi-circular domes in the form of stairs represent fire and water. Since I could not show air, I used cows and trees from Pichwai to show the flow of air,” he shared.
The exhibition also featured works of Purna Chandra Moharana and Tanmay Mahapatra (both in Pattachitra). Tanmay made wall plates featuring fish and lotus in his art. This sculpture artist showed Samudra Manthana and Jagannath using wood.