| Vidyanath Jha from Madhubani exhibits his work at Azad Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha |
Delhi is dream destination for the four painters of Madhubani district.
For years, they have seen how brokers pick up paintings from them at hardly Rs 500 and sell those in the national capital for Rs 5,000. Madhurekha, an exhibition of their paintings in New Delhi, is an answer to this exploitation.
Surrounded by decaying buildings housing bureaucrats in Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the four displayed their wares on Tuesday. The exhibition, supported by the Planning Commission, is running into its fifth day.
Although very few customers walk in to Azad Bhavan of ICCR, the painters are still happy that at least they get to interact with art connoisseurs directly. And that is what the idea with which an NGO, Banglanatak dot com, picked them up for the exhibition.
The NGO had held training sessions with 300-odd painters in Madhubani district for six months. Out of 300 painters, around four are selected for various exhibitions across the country. Exhibitions have already been held in Calcutta, Midnapore and Goa. “The brokers come to our village and pick up paintings for as less as Rs 500 and then sell it here for Rs 5,000. We do not gain anything from those sales,” said Ratneshwar Jha.
All the four participating artists — Ratneshwar, Vidyanath Jha, Meera Devi and Kalyani Devi — are from Rajnagar village in Satghara gram panchayat in Madhubani.
Despite the fact that Madhubani district has always been at the focus of traditional painting, the artists do not have a showroom or haat where they can sell their wares. “Our paintings are exported in hordes, yet we do not have access to export facilities. Only those of us who are good at networking manage to sell it abroad,” said Vidyanath Jha, a guru of Madhubani painting.
Traditionally, the village women used to make these paintings on the wall and floor of their houses during social events like marriage, birth among others. The themes and motifs of Madhubani are rooted in Hindu mythology. The paintings, however, are no longer limited to the walls of village houses. It has travelled on to sari pallus, bed-sheets, greeting cards and even T-shirts, too.
Before heading to New Delhi, the artists had a two-day interaction at Patna College of Arts and Crafts with a few young painters.
The interaction with the students gave the artists confidence and maturity.