Nari-Kunjar, a Unique Genre of Art

Nari-Kunjar a remarkably unique art genre which started trending amongst the Indian artists, starting early 17th century was a result of the influence of an art-style from Persia. The main composition of the artform is a framework of a Kunjar, a Sanskrit word, which means, the Elephant, within the shell, figures of women, nari, are artistically intertwined and seated in a creative manner. The figures are generally dancers, musicians or just a jubilant group of women. The creativity of the artist lies in the acrobatic postures used for the figures, their adjustment within the composition and their voluptuous form.

Shown below is a Persian (Left) and an Indian painting (right) of Composite elephant. Its evident, how much the Indo-Islamic artform influenced the Indian artstyle. The difference is the Persian painting is a Pashu-Kunjar (composite elephant made of animals) and the Indian style is Nari-Kunjar (composite made of women).

Composite Elephant, Persian painting, 1600 (circa)

 

Victoria and Albert Museum, 1800 (circa)

 

The composition typically followed a set pattern of nine women dressed ostentatiously. Four of the figures formed the beasts’s legs. The plait of one of the woman played the role of the elephant’s tail. The figure which served as the trunk, took the most difficult acrobatic posture. The tusks were generally formed by a figure carrying two similar items like swords or fans, depending on the subject of the painting.  The deity riding the elephant mostly carried an ankusha (elephant goad). The remaining female figures formed the back and the belly, one of whom would typically be playing an instrument called mridanga (double-headed drum).

Shown below is a Nari-kunjar painting from Rajasthan School, Sitting astride the elephant is Krishna, the gopi’s intertwined bodies form legs, body, and tusks of the elephant. The composition depicts the spiritual union of the gopi’s with their lord.

19th Century , The British Museum

 

These charmingly unusual compositions were a metaphorical depiction of different theories and philosophies. Paintings from Rajasthan school were mostly creative manifestations of the devotion and love of the gopi’s for their Lord Krishna. Mughal paintings depicted the splendor and flamboyance of the royal courts. The series created in South India depicted God of love Kama with his flashy attendants serving as a kunjar (Elephant), symbolizing the passion and romance associated with him.

Shown below is a Mughal painting, it illustrates a kingly figure riding an elephant formed by dancers and musicians, he is shown to control the beast with an elephant goad, and a woman behind him holds a fan over him. The painting is a symbolic demonstration of the pomp and show of the royal court.

Early 17th century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

The Nari-kunjar shown below is delightfully intriguing and diverse from the rest, a cobra coiled around the legs of the dancer interestingly makes the trunk more comprehensive. Ducks are cleverly used by the artist to appear as shoes for the dancers serving as the legs of the elephant.

circa 1750, Sothebys collection

 

Lord Vishnu riding an elephant composed of female orchestra and acrobatic dancing girls.

1800 (circa), The British Museum

 

Manmatha or Kama Dev, the God of Love, mounted on an Elephant composed of nine women

1820 – 1825, Victoria and Albert Museum

 

Composite elephant made of beautiful Apsaras at a Vishnu temple in Tamil Nadu

 

A contemporary painting of Nari-Kunjar made by Baani Sekhon. Oil on canvas, Size- 30”x36” inches, 2017

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Gardeners of Junk Parks

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, this phrase has been given a new meaning by art geniuses who have created sculpture parks/gardens with old objects, recycling junk, and discarded materials. These creative masterminds from around the world have dedicated years of their life in creating assembly of awesome sculptures, their masterpieces are displayed out in the open for public viewing and are now famous tourists spots.

Porter Sculpture Park (South Dakota)–  Wayne Porter a self-taught artist and a former sheep farmer, since his childhood years practiced metallic sculpting at his father’s Blacksmith Shop. Gradually as his interest in art grew his artworks became larger. His sculptures are in the style of industrial art, made with scrap metal, old farm equipment and railroad tie plates. In 2000 he opened his sculpture park, at present it is one of the most popular roadside attraction for tourists.  Out of all his quirky creations, the largest sculpture in the park is a 60-foot-tall bull head (Shown Below). This sculpture took three years to build, weighs 25 tons, and is equal in size to the heads of Mt. Rushmore.

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Rock Garden (Chandigarh)– Nek Chand, another self-taught artist, started his sculpture garden in his spare time in 1957, today it is spread over an area of 40 acres. It is completely built of industrial and home waste and thrown-away items. In his spare time, Nek Chand started collecting materials from demolition sites around the city and created concrete sculptures made of scrap and other kinds of wastes (bottles, glasses, bangles, tiles, ceramic pots, sinks, electrical waste, etc.). The park was inaugurated as a public space in 1976, today it is one of the most visited tourist sites.

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Carhenge (Nebraska)– was built by Jim Reinder in 1987 as a memorial to his father. It is a replica of England’s Stonehenge, instead of large standing stones, as is the case with the original Stonehenge, Carhenge is formed of welded discarded vintage American automobiles, all covered with gray spray paint. In addition to the Stonehenge replica, the Carhenge site includes several other sculptures created from autos parts of discarded cars covered with various colors of spray paint, it is also referred as the Car Art Reserve. There was a interesting documentary made in 2005 featuring the site-  ‘Carhenge: Genius or Junk?’

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The original ‘Stonehenge’ (Bottom) and the replica ‘Carhenge’ (Top)

 

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Cadillac Ranch (Texas) was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group ‘Ant Farm’. The public art installation/sculpture consists of used or junk Cadillac automobiles, the vehicles are installed half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Visitors are encouraged to write graffiti and spray-paint the vehicles however the cars are periodically repainted for various purposes, television commercial, once they were painted black to mark the passing of Doug Michels, another time they were painted rainbow colors to honor gay pride day and at times repainted to their original colors to simply have a fresh canvas for visitors.

 

Image source- portersculpturepark.com, indiaescapes.com, carhenge.com, antfarm.com

Art for Love

Artists have drawn inspiration from a variety of sources most common being the experience of love. Listed below are some of the most beautiful and expressive paintings made by Indian master artists in different styles and genre dedicated to love and relationships.

Sohni Mahiwal by Sobha Singh:
When we talk about star crossed lovers, Sohni Mehiwa’s romance is the first love legend that comes to our mind. One of the greatest Indian artists of twentieth century Sobha Singhs’ painting depicts the clandestine rendezvous of the tragic lovers. Mahiwal’s tenderly embraces Sohni drenched with water, seemingly tired after cross the river.

Sohni mahiwal

 

Ardhanarishvara in Tibetan Thangka Style:
Lord Shiva’s love for his consort Parvati is symbolized as Ardhanarishvara, the composition depicts his half-body being shared by his spouse. In Shiva Purana, Shiva preaches to Parvati that she resides with him, embracing her ‘limb-to-limb’, that’s how Ardhanarishvara is formed. Below is the popular Ardhanarishvara artwork painted in Tibetan Thangka style, it conveys the unity in the most beautiful manner. The posture bent in three parts (head, torso and right leg) adds grace and elegance. Intricacy of the artwork and the bright colors make the composition of the union of Siva and Shakti truly striking.

Ardhanarishvara

 

Radha Krishna series by Abdur Rahman Chughtai:
Abdur Chughtai is revered for his portrayal of legends, folklore and history of the Indo-Islamic world. His most recognizable artworks are the Radha Krishna series made in watercolours, the paintings showcases the couples tender and passionate love in the most animated and captivating manner. The artworks reflects the characteristics of his unique technique called Chughtai style- dreamy eyes, graceful figures with seductive nuances and saturated with passionate mood.

Radha Krishna

 

Mother Teresa Series by M. F. Hussain:
The cubist artist M. F. Hussain known as the “Picasso of India” made a memorable and touching series illustrating the love and compassion Mother Teresas had for the impoverished and the dying. The creativity and originality of the art works is remarkable, faceless figures with just the blue border of her attire were suggestive enough of her appearance. The composition successfully personifies motherhood, selfless love and limitless affection, creatively projected in an abstract form.

Mother Teresa

 

Shakuntala Dushyanta by Kalipada Ghoshal:
The artwork by Bengali master artist Kalipada Ghoshal depicts the tale of ‘love at first sight’ of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. In the artwork Dushyanta lovingly courts Shakuntala against a gentle backdrop, the intimate moment heightens the paintings theme of love and beauty. The dramatic love story of separation and union of this mythical couple from Mahabharat had a ‘happily ever after ending.

Dushmanta Shakuntala

 

Miniature paintings from Geeta Govinda:
Gita Govinda, a devotional song composed by Jayadeva (12th century poet), describes the divine love of Radha and Krishna. The poet elaborates on how both of them are vulnerable victims of an irrepressible passion. These fascinating miniature paintings made to represent this mini-epic beautifully illustrate the celestial couples’ spiritual love and blissful union.

Geetagovinda

 

Shah Jahan and Jahanara by Mohanlal Soni:
This emotion stirring painting of ailing Shah Jahan with his daughter Jahanara epitomizes the love between a father and his daughter. Jahanara willingly chose to join her father in imprisonment at the Agra Fort, where she devoted herself to his care until his death. The painting shows Shah Jahan gazing longingly at Taj Mahal in the background while a concerned Jahanara lovingly comforts him with warmth and compassion.

Jahan & Jahanara

 

Mother and Child series by Jamini Roy:
Jamini Roy, the most famous pupils of Abanindranath Tagore, is remembered today for the simplicity of his artworks, mainly capturing the life of the folk people. His most popular paintings have been the ‘Mother and Child’ series which followed his distinctive technique of bold outlines, flat colors and wide-eyed stylized figures. He effortlessly captured the essence of mothers love with a straightforward and simple approach.

Jamini Roy (1887-1972), Mother and Child, Tempera on Canvas, 35.7x73 cm, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

 

Meera Bai Pines for Her Krishna by Vasudeo Kamath:
This exquisite painting depicts Meera Bai the mystic poet, longing for Krishnas’ image. To accomplish that, she tries to replica his appearance by painting her face dark and complements it with a peacock feather to match his manifestation at best. Vasudeo Kamath manages to capture the spiritual bliss and ecstasy Meera Bai experiences on seeing her reflection.

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Urvashi Pururavas and Savitri Satyavan by Raja Ravi Varma:
These lesser known paintings of the celebrated Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma depict the epic love stories of two mythical couples- Urvashi Pururavas and Savitri Satyavan. The love story of the beautiful apsara Urvashi and Pururavas ends tragically after she bears him a child, the reason was a curse given by sage Bharat- “ the day your son and lover meet, you will have to return to heaven.” The painting shows Urvashi leaving a mournful Pururavas.

Savitri and Satyavan however had a ‘happily ever after’ ending, the artwork shows the scene when Lord Yama the god of Death, comes to claim the soul of Satyavan. Eventually, impressed by Savitri’s dedication and purity, Lord Yama grants life to Satyavan’s.

Raja Ravi Varma

6 Reasons to why you should visit Art Exhibition’s

We can probably list out hundreds of reasons to visit an Art exhibition however let’s start with 6 points to spare you the torture of a long post.

To take pleasure of an artworks’ grandeur and enormity, one must view it physically. Times have changed, art lovers can now view paintings on online galleries but experiencing art the traditional way has a charm of its own.

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The benefit as a visitor for an art show is that you will always get to see the finest handpicked art works of the showcased artists. Curators and artist collectively filter out the best artworks to be displayed for an Art exhibition from their collection. There is a lot of thinking and planning done in short listing the pieces.

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Its FREE! What could be better than a free entry to a setting with a marvelous visual treat? Even restaurants bill you for enjoying their ambience. In an exhibition you get a chance to be surrounded with rich creativity of contemporary artworks which you can leisurely enjoy without any time limit.

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Experiencing art awakens compassion and empathy in us, it helps us identify with the world of another. Art in any form is a window to the thoughts of the creator, be it poetry, music, movies or novels. Understanding the underlying feelings and relating it with oneself is what forms an emotional connection with not just the creators’ mind-set but also with the depicted composition. A work of art also facilitates us to self explore.

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Exhibitions serve as stress busters –‘far from the maddening crowd’. If you are lucky enough to visit an Art Show with a wide variety of exquisite work of art which you can easily identify with, it would truly be a spiritual experience.

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There is an artist in all of us waiting to be explored, visiting an art show is one of the many ways of unlocking our creative side. Being surrounded with art and creativity automatically makes you look at things from a new perspective, generates original thoughts and inspirational ideas.

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So step out, visit exhibitions and attend opening receptions of art shows, be an enthusiastic experience-seeker. For all you know, you may even want to make a return visit.

Ocher Art takes this opportunity to thank all the visitors who came for the 3rd edition of our Annual Art Show.

 

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Image source- Media coverage of Ocher Art’s Annual Art Exhibition’s. Artworks are of eminent artists showcased on ocherart.com

Krishna- a perfect muse

Lord Krishna true to his name meaning- “he who attracts everyone” has been the ultimate source of inspiration for the creative art for centuries- Fashion, Paintings, Movies, Classical dance, Creative writing and more…  He’s arguably the most influential Indian mythological figure, no other character so far has been captured artistically in so many ways and means.

Radha imitates Krishna

For queries regarding the artwork shown above, kindly mail at- admin@ocherart.com

 

For queries regarding the artwork shown above, kindly mail at- admin@ocherart.com

The reason for this fixation for the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu is that His persona and teachings relate very well to the everyday aspects of human life. He has never been depicted as an unrealistically perfect and flawless figure, His character has multiple fascinating layers making it easier for a regular person to relate to. He was a butter-thief, an impish flirt, political genius, sharp strategist, an ideal friend and a doting son. Krishna, the supreme avatar is a great embodiment of numerous personas.

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Manoj Das,acrylic on canvas,LILAA-II,24''x48''.2013,Rs-42,000.

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His distinctive, one of a kind, physical appearance also adds to the fascination of the artist’s, making Him the favorite subject for arts of all kinds. As per the vedic scriptures each element of his bedecked physical form has a deeper meaning, mentioning a few- dark blue complexion depicts infinite sky, yellow attire represents the earth matter, flute symbolizes an individual with a hollow ego and so on. These profound manifestations have made him a powerful and inspiring muse.

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For queries regarding the artwork shown above, kindly mail at- admin@ocherart.com

 

For queries regarding the artworks shown above, kindly mail at- admin@ocherart.com