The exhibition of paintings at the New South Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts proved to be a treat for the eyes. The self-taught artist, Panne Kunwar Bachhawat, has been practicing her art of over 20 years.

She has adopted a folk style of painting, but instead of perpetuating a particular style, she uses the devices of various folk styles as and when she pleases, often merging them into something original. Instead of the earth and vegetable colors, which were once used for such art, she uses oils. Bright and deep shades of vermilion, yellow ochre, blue and green. Even though her style is unrestrained, the influence of the Madhubani and Rajasthani styles are distinct. What is remarkable about her paintings is her ability to sustain the simple attitude to the various themes, which is the essence of all folk art. Her human figures are simple forms or rather designs done with patches of color and dark or light outlines, yet they are strangely evocative. The background is often filled with flowers, leaves, birds merely dots and lines. She has drawn the immortal pair Radha and Krishna and various Hindu gods and goddesses like Durga, Kali, Shiva, Saraswati, as well as many women figures. The most outstanding ones are perhaps her large-eyed 'Radha' and the 'Lady Plucking Fruit'. The Radha has been drawn in the Madhubani style and is simple and attractive captured within a frame of dots and crosses. The lady on the other hand is more complicated done in the Rajasthani style but the treatment of the background hints at a more modern conception. The artist has achieved a fine composition with a perfect division of space. The lady seems to stretch forward for the fruit while her feet sets her family on the ground. There are also a number of line drawings, some of which are quite interesting.


Diverse folk motifs of Rajasthan

Artists employing folk idioms are two categories --- those who use folk forms to create a personal style to flesh out their their own visions and those who adore and absorb folk ethos and emulate unalloyed folk manner. To the latter belongs P. K. Bachhawat who recently exhibited her paintings and drawings at the Academy of fine Arts.

Being Rajasthani, the painter draws on the ideas and values of the folk arts of the different regions of Rajasthan. Her oils evoking diverse folk motifs in pleasing shades of primary colors are marked by the charming naiveté of authentic folk art. Gods and goddesses, Krishna and gopies and dancing girls were naively drawn in asymmetrical compositions with decorative blobs, dots, curved hatching and various floral details densely filling the space in and around the figures and forms.

A few potraying Kali, Durga, Saraswati and Siva were gorgeous while others attracted the viewer for spontaneous and simple execution. Nayikas with flowers in hands, painted in profile and often in flat smoothing yellows, green and brownish reds had some affinity with ladies in Rajasthani miniature of different schools. Ms Bachhawat seemed to be gifted with an in-born folk sensibility, which was evident in each of her works.

The exhibits included a number of ink drawings in smaller format, done in thick short strokes in black and evoking Ganesh, Hanuman, nomadic dancing women they exude the same charming simplicity as the paintings.


Panne Kunwar Bachhawat :- It is difficult to give a valid judgement on the works of Panne Kunwar Bachhawat (Sanskriti Art Gallery) because of their surprising closeness to certain forms of folk art at present very popular. In this a conscious attempt to create a new genre of folk based art executed in the sophisticated medium of oil? If so. A separate set of judge it, and one recalls the fate of textile designers who were reviving traditional designs because the originals were on the verge of extinction.

If the attempt here is to provide a wider base for folk art reaching it to those who are unable to have access to the originals one can say that artists is highly skillful in her use of oils using the medium with a flatness and smoothness that suggests indigenous pigments. Her colors are varied and she is appropriately decorative. However, she at times gives glimpses of her originality as a modern artists where she uses forms evolving out of folk art and not as imitations if folk art...the examples are unfortunately very few, and cannot be considered a valid indicator of a trend, the majority of her preoccupations seems to be to create a sort of contemporary folk art prints of originals, for reasons that need sociological rather than aesthetic analysis.