Pichvai Tradition and Beyond is a platform conceptualised by Pooja Singhal to sustain, preserve and revive the tradition of pichvai painting that dates back to the 17th century. A third generation entrepreneur from Udaipur, Pooja works with artists towards revitalising and further innovating this art form in the contemporary context.
A pichvai is a meticulously detailed, hand-painted textile traditionally hung behind the idol of Shrinathji, an incarnation of the Hindu god Krishna. Worshipped by the Vaishnavite sub-sect of the Pushtimargis, the temple town of Nathdwara in Udaipur, Rajasthan, is home to the main shrine which is revered and visited by devotees. Over the last century, painted textiles created for ritualistic use at the shrine have taken on a new role as art. They are much sought after by the cognoscenti for their effervescent aesthetics and have spawned a renewed pursuit among collectors.
For traditional Indian art forms and practices to resonate with contemporary audiences, they require to be re-interpreted and contextualised for the here and now. Over the past years, Pooja’s initiative has reimagined and reworked the layered historical styles and influences in newer scales, formats and themes for a wider audiece. The achievement of the project has been to engage existing Nathdwara artists and encourage the remaining few master miniaturists, while training a fresh group of artists alongside, amalgamating two different groups of artists and their styles. The creation of an atelier, unencumbered by the weight of tradition, facilitates supremely skilled painters to merge traditional techniques with contemporary application and ingenuity.
The exhibition brings to the fore traditional pichwai paintings in a fresh avatar to a wider audience. The primary intent of this art form is the celebration of Krishna’s life episodes, popularly known in mythology as Krishna-Leela. Each of the paintings manifests the spirit of regalia associated with Krishna, drawing the audiences into a contemporary darshan. The larger than life aura of Krishna and his veneration is projected through the different themes highlighted in the art works, which include Shringar, Darshan, Utsav, Kamal Kunj, Gwal-Gopi, Haveli of Shrinathji and Deccan Pichvais. The juxtaposition of rare traditional compositions alongside new interventions and reinterpretations makes this PTB a pme stop shop for the Pichwai art form.