The Telegraph
Saturday , April 7 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pattachitra draws crowd in Puri Brothers display century-old paintings

Bhubaneswar, April 6: It could be a small initiative by two artist brothers Pankaj Kumar Behera and Saroj Kumar Behera in Puri but their initiative to create an art museum inspires many. Unique antique art works as well as old crafts kept preserved since the past 10 years at the mini-museum of their art store-cum-library Pattachitra Sansad, attracts art aficionados from far and wide.

The museum houses collections of pattachitra paintings, metal crafts with intricate patterns etched on them, wooden sculptures as well as palm leaf manuscripts.

“The crafts and art works we have displayed at the museum vary from 300-year-old to some latest but special and distinctive works by our artists,” said Saroj.

Established over an area of about 5,000sqfeet, the art gallery has a special segment for the antique works that are showcased in a 600 sq feet area.

“We took 20 years to collect the articles that are on display here. Most of them are pattachitra paintings (or traditional Odia paintings on tussar cloth) but we also have rare art works in other media. These are all displayed in our ‘Not-for-sale’ segment in the museum,” said Saroj. “The huge lavish patta paintings that were created by us and our assistants have also been displayed at our museum,” added younger brother Pankaj.

The brothers who belong to a family of clay idol sculptors in the city themselves create striking art works which are sought after by tourists from European countries as well those from USA.

“Our forefathers and even we used to create clay idols for special occasions like Laxmi Puja in Dhenkanal or Durga Puja in Cuttack and so on. But we wished to pursue a form of art that could help us make a living. Hence, we started learning pattachitra in 1988 and then started the store in 1992,” informed Pankaj.

Known for the gigantic patta art works depicting the tales of Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna in a novel way and using thinner and sharper lines as well as intricate motifs, like a 20ft wide Rath Yatra painting, the brothers earned fame within a couple of years after establishing the Pattachitra Sansad.

“Though we continue making clay, wooden and stone sculptures as well as other forms of art, it is the pattachitra works that has been in great demand. In fact, while it was mostly tourists earlier, within the last 15 years, even people in the state have become our customers,” said Saroj. “But we wished to do something special that we would be remembered for while also pulling in customers to our store. Hence, we started collecting ancient art works from people in the city and nearby regions and it has led to an exclusive collection. But we will always preserve these and never sell them,” he added.