A country of a rich culture that spread across the multi-dimensional realm of life, including art, India is known for its opulence in the art of painting that traveled across Asia, influencing to shape other cultures. The dig out materials, dated back to thousands of years, establishes the affluence of painting, as for any other arts, and what was the high degree of technical excellence achieved even in very early times. The art also testifies how pertinent and deeply involved it in the very life of the land and its philosophy out of which it was born out, making it graceful and sublime.
Archaeologists allude to the earliest surviving paintings in the Indian subcontinent to Ajanta, the oldest among them dates to around the 2nd century BC. Across the country, the walls of temples and palaces can be seen made to be canvases for frescos, theorems of which were the adaptation of Indian mythical odes, incidents and characters. Murals depicting the legends linked with Siva and Parvati, Krishna and Rama in temples and palaces in Kerala have been traced back to the 16th to the 19th century.
Murals found in Kerala is said to be larger than life – the figures are featured with strong limbs and full and firm bodies. On Kerala murals, gods are found proud, vigorous and protective with their unique idiom. Kerala’s histrionic tradition fortified the pithiness of those murals that elocute the beauty and dexterity of the craft and the land.
However, protecting these traditional treasures with its intricate artistic forms, indeed, is a laborious task that not only calls for passion but dedication, which is seldom found in people. Nandita Babu is one of the few who have gumption with a percipience to keep intact this art with its traditional values. As the world falls into the charismatic technological advances, the tradition behind the living arts like murals losses it's sheen. The vims of people like Nandita, who wishes not to tweak an iota from its tradition and values, are the only hope for the arts like murals.
For Nandita, a commerce graduate, it was the sheer love for the art that pushed her to dive into the deep, which in turn honed her virtuosity in this art. When many artists ready to comprise for the sake of acknowledgments and endorsements, Nandita argues nothing the sort of recognition could tilt her from the novel cause of keeping the tradition alive.
Nandita’s artistic deftness in the murals was the adornment of many exhibitions. Her paintings that imbibe a variety of subjects drew from the epics and the contemporary itself certify how ardent she is in her cause. For art like this, where women’s participation is rare, she recollects strong modes in ancient women from her research. Here are excerpts from talks with Nandita Babu.
You are an expert in the art with many practical credentials in a traditional art segment like Mural Painting where a woman rarely participated, what was the spark that fanned your passion for this art?
I could unmistakably adhere to my childhood when talking about what fanned my enthusiasm for this craftsmanship. The mythic stories, old culture, old sagas all these have consistently intrigued me during those occasions. I was interested without fail and had that immense craving for getting to know more about this craftsmanship. Furthermore, the method or technique utilized during those occasions to make this capturing craftsmanship on walls without proposer necessities is something that consistently stunned me. I'd state I'm still a student and observer of this art form.
Mural painting is a genre in the forms of pictorial art, what makes Mural painting unique compared to other styles?
What makes this artwork unique is always its technique and colours used. For traditional mural paintings, only authentic naturals colours are used which is brewed from certain plants and specifically selected rocks. Also, the artist should have a vision of the ultimate result from the earliest starting point and continue. High detailing and sharpness of each character and object is another factor that makes this artistic expression eccentric.
Mural painting is said to be an art with scientific methodologies to follow to intact the tradition, what are the challenges the art is facing in the changing scenario?
The current challenge that this art is facing is commercialization. It’s not only about this art form, perspectives of people have changed immensely. They have started to consider art as a showpiece rather than an expression. A digital copy of any art form is available on the web currently, which can be taken a print later. Here I honestly feel the effort put forward by the creators is either not noticed or it is disrespected.
Apart from depicting mythical subjects and stories on the mural, is there any scope of portraying the contemporary characters and concepts?
Yes! It is possible. Art has no boundaries as far as a concern to diverse subjects. It is always the creators’ freedom to express and portray what his/her imagination is. Contemporary subjects can be done in this particular style and have got a huge potential scope.