THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Cutting a cake isn’t enough to do justice to celebrate the birthday of a legendary painter. Instead, ADGP B Sandhya executed a fitting inauguration to the event commemorating the 171st birth anniversary of Raja Ravi Varma by sketching out a flower on a canvas with a single stroke.
The birth anniversary was conducted on the premises of Napier Museum by Sankamitra Fine Arts Society. Initiated in 2001 by Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma who himself is a descendant of Ravi Varma, this society has been observing the painter’s birth anniversary since then.
“Art enthusiasts all around the world come to this museum to see Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings in the original. His paintings are so famous that they are even on display in the Buckingham Palace”, says V Santharam, chairman of Sankamitra fine arts society.
The birth anniversary was attended by traditional art experts of Kerala. They spoke of the contributions made by Ravi Varma to Indian art culture and their own experience of being influenced by him. “This land will not see a painter as revered as Ravi Varma”, said B Rajan, the director of Maharaja studios, who has been photographing rare Ravi Varma paintings kept in private displays.
Ravi Varma’s paintings are renowned for being one of the very first by a painter to do Indian subjects in the traditional style using western oil painting techniques. Ravi Varma also started a lithographic press to recreate artworks as a result of which the common people of India were exposed to fine art for the first time.
“Even the images of Gods and Goddesses as we know today, were adopted from the calendar paintings created by Raja Ravi Varma”, says Sandhya. Ravi Varma has painted images of deities like Saraswathy based on South-Indian models.
His paintings are now recreated, complete with accurate textures, and displayed in art galleries throughout the world.
The birthday anniversary also featured a demonstration of fabric printing by Dr Bharatharaja of Archana Printing Academy. The demonstration included printing on fabrics of different textures using organic colours. The beautiful recreation of the Ravi Varma painting “Hamsa Damayanti” using textile printing techniques was received with praise among the ones gathered. He also introduced fabric printed handbags to the gathering to combat the use of plastic bags.