Miniature Paintings are a kaleidoscope of history, scriptures and the lives of people through the ages. Crafted with delicate brushwork, a mélange of colours, and graceful forms, they are an intense labour of love illustrated on a range of materials like palm leaves, paper, wood, marble, ivory panels and cloth. Miniature painting in Rajasthan started from Mewar and then spread to other parts of the state. Different styles flourished in different time periods depending upon the patrons, social and political circumstances. For a long time, the Rajasthani miniature style of painting remained untouched by foreign influence. However, the Mughal influence in the later stages was unavoidable. Owing to the Mughal patronage, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur were highly influenced by the Mughal art which in turn was inspired by Persian influences. Like Rajasthani Painting, Pahari miniature painting too flourished under the patronage of local rulers. Pahari paintings imbibed elements of both Mughal and Rajasthani paintings.
In a one-of-its-kind art exhibition, ‘Akhanda Eka Rasa: The Undivided Royal Essence’ a collection of rare and registered miniature paintings of art collector and patron, Radhamohan Bansal was on display at the ICA Art Gallery. Here ‘Rasa’ defines a state of royal ecstasy, in union with the divine, while ‘Akhanda’ speaks about the indivisible aspect of this essence. These paintings date back as far as the 14th century and bring forth the peculiar aspects that have stayed with the visual stylization as well as the gradual gradations that have taken place from time to time. The Bansals were one of the very few families that the founder Maharaja Jai Singh II brought with him to Jaipur during the city’s inception in the year 1727. Radhamohan Bansal’s innate love for art inspired him to collect paintings Rajasthan as well as Pahari areas and some parts of Central India.
Here are some interesting art works which formed a part of the exhibition:
Panchatantra, Palam School, 14th Century
Belonging to the 14th century, this art work of the Palam School depicts a story from the ancient collection of animal fables, Panchatantra.
Scene of Hell, Kangra School, Early 19th Century
This painting depicts one of the most unusual subjects in miniature art – the scene of hell. The work symbolically emphasizes on the importance of good values and conduct in human life. The composition shows different forms of punishment inflicted upon people who reach hell after death.
Mahisasur Mardini, Bundi School, Early 19th century
The episode of Goddess Durga defeating Mahisasur forms a legendary tale of Hindu mythology. In this painting, GoddessDurga is shown in the Mahisasur Mardini avatar.
Annakoot Mahotsav, Kota School, Early 19th century
Krishna lifted a huge mountain called Govardhan on his little finger to provide shelter to the residents of Brindavan from the wrath caused by Indra. The day is celebrated as Govardhan Pooja day or Annakoot Mahotsav.
From the curators
The exhibition has been conceptualized by Avijit Dutta. Talking about the exhibition, he says: “When I first laid my eyes on the miniature paintings of the Radhamohan Bansal collection, I was overwhelmed. This exhibition is an initiative to share the unbounded splendour of the works with others by exhibiting them for public viewing.”
Radhamohan Bansal’s grandson, Abhinav Bansal opened the ICA Art Gallery in Jaipur in 2008. Here he supports and celebrates art and artists by showcasing traditional as well as contemporary art work. Sharing his insight about the exhibition and the art work, he says: “My grandfather’s passion for the tradition of miniature painting saw no bounds. The journey of Akhanda Eka Rasa began with a humble concept but it has been previously showcased and hugely appreciated even the in Bihar Museum in Patna and Kalakriti Art Gallery in Hyderabad. This is the first time these rare works were shown in Jaipur.”
The collection of paintings of Radhamohan Bansal can be viewed at the ICA Art Gallery.
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