Reviving the art of Batik

Jun 09, 2013, 06:35 IST | Punam Chavan

Now 76, well-known Batik artist Suhaas Manjrekar-Pole is finally set to showcase her works at an exhibition at the Nehru Centre

For 40 years, even since she graduated from the JJ school of Arts in 1972 and followed it up with a course in textile designing, Suhaas Manjrekar-Pole has worked magic with batik paintings. “I found it very challenging as it requires a lot of skill and patience.  What added to the allure was the fact that there were no exponents of this art who could paint human figures in Batik. Although I paint in both oil and water colour, I enjoy Batik the most,” she says.
Batik paintings titled Duet
Poles’s paintings are more folk-inspired. She says she gets attracted to vibrant colours and finds them immensely interesting. “I constantly observe things around me. I go through a lot of magazines and if I find something appealing I decide to paint it,” she explains. Pole’s paintings are woman-centric. She says, “My paintings are dedicated to cherish women. I can explore with lot of colours while painting. Women–centric themes adds allure to my paintings.”

Gawlan (top) by Suhaas Manjrekar-Pole


When asked which is her favourite painting, she says, “My favourite is Gawlan (cattle breeders) where I have shown three women carrying mud-pots on their heads. I have played with a variety of colours in this painting and the final result has come out well. There is another work titled Duet which displays two women, one holding the headcover and the other humbly looking towards the ground. This painting captures the essence of feminity gracefully.”

Pole’s artworks are vibrant in colour as she likes her paintings to spread happiness.  But why did it take her 40 years to showcase her works to the public? She tried to exhibit her works in 1972 and had applied to a prominent art gallery but after waiting for six years, she gave up and focused on bringing up her kids. “Now that they are grown up, my children encouraged me to showcase my paintings. After much persuasion I decided to try my luck again and got lucky.” she laughs.

As a quick glance at Pole’s work shows, drawing human figures in batik is no easy task. Do these paintings take a lot of time? Says Pole: “I just practised and persisted with my dream of drawing human figures in batik. As I was interested in it, I never found anything difficult because I poured my soul into the art.” Pole is obviously looking forward to her exhibit at the young age of 76. “I’m excited as it is my first solo exhibition and I have done it along with fulfilling my other responsibilities as a grandparent,” she says.

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