A Brush With Indian Classical Art

From Tanjore paintings to Nathdwara and Kalighat art, Chennai-based artist Rajasri Manikandan has been playing a small but substantial role in keeping alive some of the most ancient forms of Indian arts

Published: 08th January 2014 10:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th January 2014 10:00 AM   |  A+A-


It’s not often that you meet an artist who can  paint the classical art of your choice. Not one or two — but close to five! For Rajasri Manikandan, a wave of the brush can produce anything from a Kerala mural to patachitra to Kalighat. Brush or magic wand, we’re not quite sure...

Growing up in the North and living in cities like Delhi, Ajmer and Rohtak, Rajasri found herself in the middle of creative quests every now and then.

“I had a great sense of visualisation even when I was barely three,” recalls the artist. “My parents encouraged my artistic pursuits and bought all that I needed to keep me going with paintings. I was so obsessed with it that I used to sit with brushes and paints even before exams,” she adds.

But, it was only after marriage that she found a classroom for the classical arts when she met artist Balaji Srinivasan. “I learnt a lot about Tanjore painting from Balaji. He later did research on the classical form of arts and started conducting classes in different art styles like Kerala mural, patachitra, chitrakathi, Nathdwara and Kalighat. Nathdwara was a longer course and it ran to almost five months,” she says. And after over a year of one course followed by another, Rajasri with the support of her family decided to take the plunge to explore the fascinating world of classicism and colours.

She tells us that every art form has a unique trait that differentiates it from the rest. “In patachitra there is lot of opaqueness in colours and tones, while Nathdwara focuses a lot on detailing. While in Tanjore art, the main subject is usually bigger than the rest of the elements,” she explains.

Belonging to a guild of artists called ‘Inner Flow’, Rajasri’s chitrakathi works that has its roots in Maharashtra, depicting Tamil Nadu’s therukoothu, was showcased recently.

Though adept at the different styles, Rajasri says that when compared to traditional artists who are exposed to it from a young age, there is a difference.

“A person from Nathdwara knows his tradition better and is are faster with their strokes. But it is becoming more integrated and that is a good sign,” she says.

The most fascinating part about classical forms, according to her, is the research done to know more about the stories that are often presented through the arts.

Rajasri undertakes customised orders for Tanjore paintings and most often finds people ordering for Navaneetakrishna or Lord Rama’s pattabhishekam. But, she insists that the final work is her prerogative and the customer’s choice stops with the subject they choose for the painting. “I take utmost care to be loyal to the art form, apart from meeting their needs, as what the customer wants is important. But I don’t allow them to dictate beyond the subject,” she insists.

Rajasri soon plans to hold classes for those interested in classical arts. She can be reached at 9940035076.


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