Posts Tagged ‘Nita Padamsee’

Artist Book by Nita Padamsee

The Warli Painting traditions in Maharashtra are among the finest examples of the folk style paintings. The Warli tribe is one of the largest indigenous tribes of India, living in both mountainous and coastal areas along the MaharashtraGujarat border. It is believed that the Warli carry on a tradition stretching back to 2500 or 3000 BCE. The Warli culture is centered on the concept of Mother Nature and elements of wildlife are often focal points depicted in Warli folk art.

Having been brought up in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, I was exposed to this art since I was a kid. Unfortunately, I didn’t delve into this art form until I took a class last year with Sampada Kodagali Agarwal, who brought back the love I had always felt towards this art form done by the Warli people.

Warli painting is a simple, ancient and an eloquent way to express one’s thoughts and emotions. Only with some simple drawings and the use of two contrasting colors, a lot can be expressed. For this book, I used the brand “Khadi Papers” made in India from cotton, grown in the state of Karnataka. The word “Khadi” means hand-spun cloth, but unlike your average cloth, the word “Khadi” holds a very special place in India’s movement towards freedom and independence.

The flora and fauna of Warli art has always fascinated me, so when I read this paragraph from Katherine May’s book, ‘WINTERING’, I felt I was able to combine my love for calligraphy, lettering and Warli art into this accordion book to tell a story. Just as the author Rilke reverenced winter as the season for tending to the inner garden of the soul, Katherine May writes about “Resilience, the Wisdom of Sadness, and How the Science of Trees Illuminates the Art of Self-Renewal Through Difficult Times. May observes, with life-tested clarity, is the key to wintering — to emerge from the coldest seasons of the soul not only undiminished but revitalized.” 

The excerpt I chose for the accordion book was one in which May draws an analogy between the human experience and trees: “The tree is waiting. It has everything ready. Its fallen leaves are mulching the forest floor, and its roots are drawing up the extra winter moisture, providing a firm anchor against seasonal storms. Its ripe cones and nuts are providing essential food in this scarce time for mice and squirrels, and its bark is hosting hibernating insects and providing a source of nourishment for hungry deer. It is far from dead. It is in fact the life and soul of the wood. It’s just getting on with it quietly. It will not burst into life in the Spring. It will just put on a new coat and face the world again.”

by Nita Padamsee

Take a closer look!

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Forest of Honey

This tree is done in the Madhubani style of Indian art, practiced in the Mithila region of the Indian subcontinent, which includes the states of Bihar and Jharkhand, extending into Nepal. Madhubani art was largely practiced by women artists, characterized by geometric patterns and religious motifs, and is soaked in mythology and antiquity. Trees and nature are a part of most art from Madhubani, which celebrates nature. It’s very name means ‘forest of honey’.

In Madhubani art, the figures are two-dimensional in nature. The features usually include sharp noses with bulging eyes. Double lines are used to draw figures, flora and fauna. Also, the designs are filled with intricate lines and no shading is required. Typically, no empty spaces are left in this style and are usually filled with leaves and flowers. Where there are fine lines used for shading, it’s called Kachni, meaning ‘to cut’. Here color is not applied. Where there are open forms, and color is applied is called Bharni meaning ‘to fill’. 

Madhubani is still practiced and kept alive in institutions spread across the Mithila region and beyond.

For my interpretation of the tree, I used fineline markers for the black outlines and colored brush pens for the colors. I kept to the rule of Kachni and Bharni, to stay true to the Madhubani style of art.

Nita Padamsee, Massachusetts

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