Poetry of the gods
Malavika Sarukkai. Pics courtesy/Narendra Dangiya
In The Bhagavata Purana (one of Hinduism's great puranas), the Hiranyagarbha or golden egg is the source of creation. It is believed that a golden egg descended from the skies, floated in emptiness and then cracked open, leading to the beginning of creation. This egg finds form in the 18th-century painter Manaku's art.
This weekend, at a session titled Conversing With The Gods, you can gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of the painter's work. "I won't give too many historical details. I want people to savour his thought process, understand his extraordinary drawings and allow themselves to visually enter his work. I want to make his art accessible," says art historian and scholar of Indian miniature painting, Dr BN Goswamy. The Padma Bhushan awardee will present an illustrated talk on Manaku's work.
"His style was different from that of his brother, Nainsukh and father, Pandit Seu, both important practitioners of Pahari painting," he says. This talk will serve as a curtain-raiser to his book on the painter, set to release later this year. The book will be a companion volume to his earlier work, Nainsukh of Guler: A Great Indian Painter from a Small Hill-State.
The talk will focus on three important series by Manaku of Guler — works relating to the Ramayana; the Bhagavata Purana, which focuses on Vishnu and his incarnations; and the Geet Govind paintings, which are based on the poetic text by 12th-century Indian poet, Jayadeva. "As a painter, Manaku concealed himself from everyone else and focused only on his work. How, then, did he manage an interpretation of a text written 600 years before, sitting in the tiny state of Guler? His work is full of animation, of feeling. It is as if he were seeing things standing at the edge of whatever was happening. This is why I called the talk, Conversing with the Gods," adds Goswamy.
Dr BN Goswamy, Art Historian
The talk will be followed by a dance performance by Bharatanatyam danseuse, Malavika Sarukkai. "I have been influenced by sculptures and paintings and many of my choreographies have references to our culture. This performance will feature a couple of pieces on Vishnu, the central deity of the evening, and new choreographies," she says.
ON: February 4, 6.30 pm
AT: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
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COST: Rs 200 to Rs 750