BANGALORE: His sister is the greatest influence on the works of Madhubani artist Umakant Thakur. He hails from Madhubani district in Bihar and has seen the predominantly domestic art evolve to cater to fast-changing market trends.
In town to participate in an exhibition, he speaks to City Express on his art and his sister. Bundeswari Devi was a national awardee for her work in sikki glass in 1969. Unfortunately, she died in 1987.
“I was greatly influenced by her works. Her works were very spontaneous. Till today, I randomly think of a situation and start working,” he says.
Commenting on the evolution of art, he says:” Earlier, powder colours too were used. But today only vegetables colours are used. On special occasions, cow dung is applied on the walls and floors to give it a perfect black background on which pictures are drawn with rice paste and vegetable colours. This form of art is now very popular all over the world.”
Even in Bangalore, where he has exhibited his work earlier, he feels he receives a warm response from the people, who know the value of art.
He speaks about the drought in Bihar that forced women to sell their “kitchen” art. Soon, men joined in to paint. “Madhu means ‘sweet’ and bani means ‘voice’. Our district’s name is Madhubani and the art emerged from here. Initially, only women painted it,” he said.
He has been painting for a livelihood for the last 20 years. The government of Bihar even recognised his talent by granting him the state award for his contribution towards propagation of art in the year 1995.
All gold and glitter
Growing up in a family which breathed art, Pushpalata Dilip Kumar inherited her father Padmashree Shreepati’s skill and dexterity in making Tanjore paintings.
Pushpalata says, “My father’s art is different from others in its detailing. It was a neat depiction of a very traditional form of art. The textures used are mostly dark in colour.”
Pushpalata says her father played a great role in her journey with the art form. “My father has been my ideal guru so far,” she says. While both father and daughter specialise in mythological subjects, she is now learning to work on Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings.
Quiz her on her favourite work and she says: Lord Tirupathi Balaji.