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     The Colour Odyssey                


    Abhishek Kumar


    Wan’ a go for ‘a journey to the soulful world’? That man takes you anywhere or even far beyond the known world as you wish; only he needs is a beautiful soul to accompany with!


    A brilliant painting artist (in Madhubani/Mithila), Rambharos also facilitates in our project ‘JIYO’. We work for the marginalized artisans whose livelihoods depend upon traditional cultural industries. Here comes an ironical situation as these painters on the one hand not well-placed into the Indian art scene and on the other hand well-exhibited in international art world same as Rambharos’ works of art which range from the USA, UK, South Africa or Iceland collections to the remote areas of Bihar. There is a huge challenge in front of these explorers that how to respond to the economic recession and tackle the conflict between both following tradition/modernity and being artist/artisan.  


    "Ritual Art"? "Folk Art"? Or simply Art? When Mithila painting was first transferred to paper for sale in the late 1960s, the previously unsigned if not quite anonymous "ritual art," was popularly recast as "folk art." For many painters today these two categories still seem accurate. But Mithila has also been generating numerous highly individuated self-conscious artists. As a result - and unlike most "traditional" arts of India - the styles and subjects of Mithila painting have evolved and multiplied dramatically- says David Szanton in Transformations of Mithila Painting. Displaying an extraordinary vitality, painters of different backgrounds have drawn on their own caste traditions, interaction with outsiders, a new sense of themselves as artists and social actors, and have responded to a wide range of national and international audiences and markets.

    For no doubt deep cultural and historical reasons, the Mithila tradition continues to produce highly talented painters. The new generation includes elders like Santosh Das, Bibha Das, Vinita Jha, Neelkant Chaudhaury, Dulari Devi, Urmila Devi, and the younger ones like Rambharos, Amrita Das, Amrita Jha, Kamlesh and Prateek to name a few. These young painters have the potential to become the next generation of major painters. Currently, however (with the few exceptions), they lack access to, and the important stimulus and confidence created by, national and international markets, or national and international recognition for their paintings. Only a little effort is being made through some organisations towards the development of this younger generation of potentially world-class artists.

    In the last few years, these young guns have proved their potential not only in terms of experimenting with subjects but also in changing perception of this art form which in a whole have resulted as a discussion of their identity versus their advancement. However, they too suffer the negative connotation of the words Mithila or Madhubani which have ever been the identity of this art form but now hurdle their way to become mainstream artists.

    Rambharos has recently introduced collage pattern (first ever of its kind) in this style e.g. creating dimensions in the same media which is sold and being exhibited by Ethnic Arts foundation in Los Angles (USA), the place where his name is well-known to the art connoisseurs and lovers. However, it repeats the same story when talking about the prices. How can one be an unknown person with a famous name…!  


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