Pichwai painting lets you time-travel. My practice questions the human experience when it is co-located in multiple times. I express this through traditional pichwai painting in a contemporary language.
The work opens up a transient space wherein the mind, body and soul merges with the external. It explores a woman’s inner self as she navigates through various life-facets, times-spaces, bhava (emotions) and her fluid identity. These occurrences and memories persist as constantly moving fragments. They form a whole in a moment, wherein the various parts are co-present. The paintings invite the viewer to experience this fragmented world.
I am an urban woman, trained in modern art, Indian miniature-‘pichwai painting’ (cloth paintings hung behind Krishna’s idol) and ‘sanji art’ (ritualistic temple patterns created with hand-cut paper stencils). Even though I primarily engage with traditional material and art-making processes; the medium of pichwai painting holds a very contextual meaning because of the environment I create them in.
Engagement with this painting form is not just an aesthetic practice but also influenced by my practice of Pushti Marg (Path of Grace). It is a spiritual form of Krishna worship through love, devotion and surrender. Krishna-Leela (God’s play) is experienced through the senses, ekagrah bhakti (one-point devotion) and seva (selfless service). My training at Nathdwara helped me look at the pichwai beyond my personal religious significance. The painting practice becomes a form of seva through which I meditated upon Krishna’s bhava and form. Not only does it ground me in mindfulness, disciple and oneness but also provides a lens to perceive the world with.
The works are inspired by architecture, everyday life, personal experiences, time and abstraction. Miniature painting process such as single brush point line-drawing, shading with layers of small lines and dots (pardaj) and handmade color builds integral aspects of the painting. Pardaj creates an illusion of a whole, similar to pointillism and digital-printing. I also experiment with various techniques such as different colour-schemes, transparency, collage, layering, separating the image into its basic forms, new-media and installation. Stitching together these diverse practices, the screens represent a new reality. Each dot, shape, pardaj-line and tone becomes a metaphor for the fragments.
Layering and transparency are painting techniques. However, in pichwai imagery they become windows to Krishna’s omnipresence through infinite cyclic time-space. Therefore architectural windows and its symbolic forms such as the senses, skin, fissures, roots and pores become metaphorical portals that simultaneously connect the present to the manifold leela-lands.
The works encourages the audience to question their selves within and beyond as they strive to find balance through the co-presence of different life-facets. It is not as much about definitive but about fulfilment in moments of self-awareness. Hence, can these intricately layered paintings be windows to a multilayered perspective ?