Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Traditional Paintings - Article in Alekhya

Paintings of KS Shreehari

Following paintings of Sri K.S. Shreehari are in the collection of Ramsons Kala Pratishtana.

Mahisha Mardini. The painting is a rare depiction of slaying of Chanda, Munda, Raktabeeja and Mahishasura by Devi Mahalakshmi in the presence of her younger sister Jwalamalini Tripura Sundari.

Saraswati. 1996. 51cm x 71 cm

Lakshmi Narasimha. 2012. 38 cm x 48 cm

Raja Rajeshwari

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Family of Traditional Artists

Tirupalli Raju

K. Venkataraman
student of Tirupallayya

K.V. Seetaraman
son of K. Venkataraman

Sri K.S. Shreehari
son of K.V. Seetaraman

This four generation of artists are custodians of the traditional Mysore style painting; they hail from T. Narasipura, Mysore district in Karnataka, a town at the confluence of the rivers Kaveri (Cauvery), Kapila (Kabini) and an unseen legendary Sphatika Sarovara.

Sri K.S. Shreehari

Tirupalli Raju was a master artist who decorated the temple of Nanjangud with murals during the late 19th century.  Possibly, he could be the descendent of Tirupalayya, one of the painters who worked under Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar's patronage.  One among his apprentice trainees was K. Venkataraman of Tirumakudlu Narasipur on the banks of Kapila-Kaveri about 30 kms from Mysore City.  His father Kullaiyya Raju was also a painter.  After serving under the master for several years and acquiring sufficient expertise, Venkataraman returned to T. Narasipur and started his avocation.  But from what we learn, his talents did not get due recognition and patronage. His son K.V. Seetharaman though inherited this art was not much of a success because of the loss of interest in these traditional paintings in the public and the family went into bad times. It was his son Shreehari who tried to revive and establish the family heritage in a more concrete manner.

K.S. Shreehari was born on 12.01.1968 at T. Narasipur.  Being a graduate from the University of Mysore, he had his own dreams and ambitions but could not achieve any of them due to adverse economic factors.  Meanwhile people started evincing greater interest and even pride in this noble heritage, thus creating a demand and also a market for these paintings.  This enabled Shreehari to come into the focus of art lovers.  Commissions for these paintings started coming in.

Apart from the subjects like Raja Rajeshwari, Sri Rama-pattabhisheka, Kodandarama, Tripuraasura Samhaara, 32 forms of Ganesha and familiar themes of traditional painters of Mysore, Shreehari proved his expertise in the paintings of such exotic themes like a zigzag puzzle like 'Panchanaari-Turaga', i.e., figure of horse comprising five female figures and 'Navanaari-Kunjara' i.e., figure of elephant comprising nine female figures.  Another work given below entitled 'Virata Vishwaroopa' testifies to his eye for minutest details and a fecund imagination, it represents a form of Vishnu embodying the entire universe with all its animate and inanimate objects.

In recognition of his service to traditional painting, Shreehari received the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya Vishwakarma award of the craft council of Karnataka in 1994 and Rotary Ramsons Kala Pratishtana award for the best craftsperson in 1996.

He is a recipient of Mysore Dasara Art Exhibiton's first prize in Traditional art for years 1986, 89, 90, and 93. Apart from his participation in various traditional painting workshops held at Honnavara, Nagpur, Mysore, and Gwalior, he has held one man exhibitions at ANZ Grindlays Bank Art Gallery and Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery, Bombay. His artistic masterpieces adorn the Karnataka Lalithakala Academy, Bangalore, South Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur, Ravindra Niketana, Tumkur, Taj Hotels at Bombay and Madras and Museum of Sacred Art, Belgium. Ramsons Kala Pratishtana of Mysore has a major collection of Shreehari's paintings.

His private patrons are Dr. Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala (D.K.), Dr. Saryu Doshi, Bombay, Dr. Norman Sjoman, Canada.  Rajasaheb of Nabha, New Delhi, His Highness Maharaja Virabhadrasinhji of Bhavanagar, Maharajkumar Vishnudevji of Dharmapur, Maharaj Kumar Girirajsinhji of Gondal and Mr. Alain Grandlcolas, France. Thus his works have become collectors' items in both India and abroad and thus he has created for himself a good number of admiring lovers of art.
 -BVK Sastry 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Another Article on Mysore Style

Saritha Rao Rayachoti has written an article on Mysore style paintings. You can read it at her blog here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Artist Girija M

Mr. Shoaib Khan has written in his blog about artist Girija of Mysore who paints in Mysore style. You can read about her here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This is a Mysore style painting of Sri Satyanarayana. This painting is probably done in 1914. The artist has not signed. The size of the painting is 20"x24". Copyright of this image rests with Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysore.

The central figure of Narayana dominates the painting. With a faint smile, he is seen holding Shankha (conch - Panchjanya) and Chakra (discuss - Sudarshana) in the top two hands while he holds a Gada (mace - Kaumodaki) and Kamala (lotus) in the lower two hands. His right chest is the abode of his consort Sri Lakshmi (shown as a small circular pendant on his right chest) which is called as Srivatsa. He wears a flowing Peetambara and a garland of lotuses. Observe the slender stylised fingers of Satyanarayana which strictly follows the idiom of Mysore style painting.

The main figure is flanked by two smaller figures of Narada (the one with a beard) and Tumburu (the one with a horse face)

A green solid background is typical to Mysore style paintings. The top has an arched canopy decorated with 24 lotuses.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mysore Traditional Paintings

The history of traditional Mysore paintings begins in the second half of the16th century during the rule of Raja Wodeyar (1568-1617), the first powerful ruler of the rising Wodeyar dynasty. It is known from literary sources that a large number of artists and their families, made homeless after the fall of the mighty Karnataka Empire of Vijayanagara in 1565, were rehabilitated and employed by him.  An old temple dedicated to the goddess Nimishaamba, family deity of the Chandravamshi Arya-kshatriya Raju community to which most of the artists belonged, still stands on the banks of the Cauvery (Kaveri) near Srirangapattana, the then capital of the Wodeyar dynasty. Raja Wodeyar's successors were also generous patrons of the arts and employed artists to decorate palaces, temples and manuscripts. Unfortunately very little is known of this early phase of Mysore paintings as very few examples have survived the constant battles and generations of neglect and vandalism.  But one can safely presume that this early style followed the Vijayanagara idiom, perhaps with minor changes to suit the taste and culture of the new patrons.

The Mysore style was again revived in early years of the 19th century under Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1799-1868). Some of the most beautiful and refined work was produced during his rule as the king himself took a very keen and personal interest in the art of painting. The illustrations in the manuscript of the famous cultural encyclopedia 'Sri Tattva-nidhi' are examples of the king's sophisticated taste and patronage.

By the middle of the 19th century, traditional paintings became quite popular. Many rich merchants and palace officials wanted paintings to decorate their homes and domestic shrines. To meet this demand, traditional artists began to paint small, intimate groups of gods and goddesses set within decorative niches in the manner of portraits. Mysore paintings of the 19th century were generally done on paperboard or cloth using both mineral and vegetable pigments. Jewellery, textile patterns and architectural features were done in low relief using gesso work covered with gold leaf.

The subject chosen were mostly from the rich heritage of Indian mythology. Some of the favourite themes were: the coronation of Sri Rama  (Rama pattabhisheka), wedding of Shiva and Parvati (Girija kalyana), Sri Rama with bow and arrows (Kodanda-Rama), Sri Krishna with his foster mother (Yashoda-Krishna) and the goddess Chamundeshwari, the family deity of the Mysore royal house. Occasionally portraits of the king and his family were painted.

Though the subjects were religious and mythological, the models were from real life. The delicate and fleshy oval faces depicted in the paintings can still be seen among members of the old nobility. And the architectural backgrounds of many paintings are faithful copies of the architectural features of the Mysore palace.

Though a dying art form now, a few artists still paint in the traditional Mysore style even though the technique involved is long and labourious and the market limited.
- Swami Sivapriyananda