Ram Pratap Verma became fascinated by the wall painting of several havelis in his hometown of Bhiwani, Haryana. In the town on the border of Rajasthan, art was all around them and this was their way of life. As a child, he saw his mother painting the Gugga Pir or Gangaur festivals on the walls of her house, which were related to snake-worship and Vandana Shakti or femininity respectively, and made of monkey-rattles and cloths made by her. Were made. He used to play with toys.
even before joining Chandigarh Art College, Varma painted the hoardings and signboards of the cinema in his hometown. Immersed in art, his journey back to his hometown to capture fading wall paintings on film, camera and text, is one of a kind thanks to the place that sowed the seeds of art in his heart and soul.
‘Wall painting; ‘The Vanishing Treasure’, a beautifully illustrated book and a documentary film based on the book, Valuable Works, released this week by Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi. Both the book and the film are a labor of love, with Varma working over the years to capture the lost treasure of his hometown, both in words and in reel, with the hope that a legacy, arts group or government will endeavor. Restore, preserve and protect this ‘disappearing treasure’. Verma says his 40-year journey as an artist has its roots here and the book is a tribute to his wife Sarita, who hails from the same place and will live in his memory forever.
Varma says that as an artist he has tried to document the remains of murals on the havelis of Bhiwani.
“These remarkable paintings, largely based on mythological themes from the 18th century onwards, are a world in themselves. Hopefully, these unseen and sabotaged paintings will reach art lovers through the pages of this book and film. These paintings The pigments used 200 years ago in AD 200 are still intact today. Some of the paintings recorded in this book no longer exist as many havelis have been demolished to make way for modern homes. Destroyed due to mismanagement, they Retouched. Sketches are shown with destroyed paintings to show the damage done to this treasure. Some of the existing havelis are in pitiable condition and if valued as heritage they may not survive long If they are not protected.The present condition of these havelis shows the neglect and insensitive attitude of the owners, caretakers and government officials.
The local community has also been insensitive; Perhaps they do not understand that these are rare treasures of art and heritage. These wall paintings are waiting for the fading treasures of Bhiwani, the caring hands and the heart ready to preserve them,” says Pratap, adding text in Hindi and local dialect along with the name of the character or characters depicted. The scene is written to describe. .
Decoding these paintings on the walls of Bhiwani’s havelis, the artist says, is akin to unveiling the marvels of the visual arts, as these works are a unique display of the knowledge and skill of painters who had their own style. In the book and documentary, Pratap takes art lovers closer to these treasures as he spent months in these havelis, taking photographs, researching the history of these painters, their styles, their use of colours, history and society’s impact on their art. did. did. . He says it is difficult to find evidence of any art school in the region during the 19th century, as many different influences from different time periods and cultures are seen in paintings as well as architecture.
Painted compositions are random, based mainly on mythological subjects and court and battle scenes and the painters used primary colors such as ocher, indigo and green as secondary. Some compositions on the ceilings of the domes include several mythological scenes with various characters that are not related to the scene, and are depicted as space fillers. “This world of silent paintings and broken walls speaks of the glory of a bygone era,” says Pratap, who laments the fact that many of these priceless works have been lost to time and neglect.