As he readies for an exhibition of 127 artworks, Suvigya Sharma on the challenges of miniaturisation and building a celebrity clientele
It can take upto eight months for Suvigya Sharma to paint an eye. Compare that timing to the step-by-step art tutorials on YouTube and it may still feel like eons. But the Jaipur-based artist's work isn't something one can attempt to finish overnight. A technique that is over a thousand years old, miniaturisation has travelled far and wide; the concept evolving from art to microchips. Although born in a family of artists, Sharma didn't have a direction when he began at 18. And now, for the next three weeks, he will showcase 127 artworks — a portfolio he has built over 17 years comprising pichwais, refined tanjores, piquas and life-like portraits — in an exhibition titled Reminiscence at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Gallery.
Speaking about the show's title, Sharma explains, "The name emerges from the fact that it is one of the earliest art forms. When I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose portrait I had painted, he called me a torchbearer of the technique since I am one of the very few to have taken this up as a career and actively promoting the art form." In contrast to conventional Indian miniatures, the 36-year-old artist has moved away from tradition and gravitated towards a more modern depiction with the colours and an ombre effect. This required him to study a fair bit of European art. As he says, "I want my work to have universal appeal."
The pichwais are made on Elfh, a patented mineral composition. "It's the best replica for ivory. And every year, for every pichwai sold, I donate a sum towards the welfare of elephants and to fight poaching," Sharma says. The works are painted with freshly prepared vegetable dyes and gilded in 24-carat gold. His works are part of the collections of celebrities including Priyanka Chopra, Justin Bieber, the Ambanis and the Piramals. "You have to be very patient to achieve this intricate detailing in these paintings and so, the technique itself is a challenge. I have been very fortunate to build a network that supports my work and to have it exhibited at auctions. It is important for artists to connect to the right people," he adds.
Sharma feels that although the awareness and enthusiasm about miniatures among the younger generation is increasing, artists working with the form should also adapt to modern tastes. "But you must make something meaningful. I hope that people who attend my exhibition not just support this work but understand that it is the basis of art in this country."
TILL October 14, 11 am to 7 pm
AT Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery, Bajaj Bhavan, Jamnalal Bajaj Road, Nariman Point.
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