Painting in the Pichwai style

Meet State Award-winning artist Mukul Joshi from Rajasthan who strives relentlessly to ensure the art reaches maximum number of people

By Author  |  Published: 8th Sep 2019  12:38 amUpdated: 7th Sep 2019  8:41 pm
Pichwai style
Photo: Anand Dharmana

Have you ever imagined yourself doing some work by simultaneously holding back your breath for a few seconds? The Pichwai artists go through such a cumbersome process while performing their artistic work, day in and day out, to bring out the best handmade Pichwai designs.

Every art has its own beauty and meaning, and Pichwai paintings, a traditional Rajasthani art, are no exception. This art has more demand and people show more interest to buy Pichwai works.

Meet Mukul Joshi, State Award-winning artist hailing from Rajasthan, who is currently exhibiting his collection at the ongoing Dastkar exhibition in Kamma Sangham, Ameerpet. “The word ‘Pichwai’ stands for ‘hanging at the back’. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Pich’ means back and ‘wais’ means hanging. Pichwai paintings are big-sized paintings done on cotton cloth using natural colours and are hung behind the idol of Lord Sreenath (or Lord Krishna) to depict his leelas,” says Mukal Joshi.

Photo: Anand Dharmana

Most of the paintings would be related to Lord Krishna, who is also called Sreenath Ji in the region. The art is done on fabric using dark, rich hues, and most of them depict their religious roots which executed with utmost devotion by the artists.

This art is made differently compared to other arts, as they use all natural stone colours to paint their art work, and use seven colours – which are considered mandatory to paint Lord Krishna. The artists grind the colours, take the dust and add tree gum to paint the art piece.

The Pichwai art, which has been in vogue from 6th century, gets more demand when it gets older, and lots of people show interest for it, says Mukul, and adds how in ancient days, kings used to get these paintings custom-made.

“I learned this art from my father and went on to improve it to bring it more closer to everybody,” says Mukul who teaches the nuances of Pichwai in a few NGOs. “There are many students of mine who conduct exhibitions abroad,” he adds.

Pichwai art is made of gold usually, or depending on the customers’ choice if they don’t want gold. The price starts from Rs 1,000 and goes up to Rs 20 lakh too based on how much gold has been used to create the work of art. The best part of the painting is that the colours won’t fade. In fact, they glow much better year by year.

Cows, Lord Krishna, Annakut festival or Govardhan Puja, Makan ka dan, etc., are generally picked up as the subjects of the painting. It takes 10 to 15 days to complete one painting, shares Mukul.

“I have visited many countries and I know the value of the art; and I strongly feel that it should not stop with my generation. So, I decided to teach somebody who is interested and that’s why I go to NGO-backed places to teach this art,” says this talented artist.

“Most of my paintings are Lord Krishna’s and I need to reach out to people and show the speciality of this art. So, recently, I started painting on saving trees, water and cows,” he adds and concludes that the Pichwai art is now being used on clothes as well and has received good response from the public.

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