Budding Bihar artist adds new twist to Mithila paintings

Budding Bihar artist adds new twist to Mithila paintings

PATNA: Mithila traditional painting is normally associated with Ramayana, Mahabharta and Nature. But here is an artist who wants to break free and give it a new form and subject through a genre that can be probably known as Neo Mithila Fine Arts.

And, how about starting the experiment with a subject like Bhojpuri legend Bhikhari Thakur! It is not just an experiment in form of the world-famous Mithila painting but also providing fusion of Mithila and Bhojpuri culture and by an artist from Ang region of the state.

Patna-based Neo Mithila fine arts painter Chitra Singh, has sprung a surprise for art lovers by thinking of depicting journey of Bhikhari Thakur through seven frames, drawn from his life and famous works such as Bidesia, Beti Bechwa and Gabar Gheechor.

What is most remarkable about her works is her story-telling ability. Her characters look like doing walk the talk. Her work on Beti Bechwa shows a helpless daughter seeing her father accepting money from an elderly man to marry his daughter to him.

The expression of the girl’s mother on day of marriage is a heart moving tale of how the Bhojpuri legend captured social evil and bad practices of his time. This is the first time any artist could think of moving Mithila art beyond key theme of Ramayana.

“Art grows with experiment and flexibility. I do not claim to be a Mithila painter. I have taken its basic fine points and devised my own style. Some critics find my work also presenting a fusion of Mithila and Patna Kalam styles. I take it as a compliment. So long as art lovers find it visually appealing, I am happy with my experiment. There are about one lakh Mithila painters, I do not want to be one lakh and one”, Chitra Singh who has organized her painting exhibition in Patna told The Statesman today. Her painting exhibition was inaugurated by chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday evening.

Other Bhikhari Thakur frames show pangs of migration, Bhikhari influencing Bhojpuri and Mithila singers. One frame in which Bhikhari character is seen keeping his razor and pen in a notebook tells story of how Thakur combined his livelihood and work.

Bhojpuri literature, dance, music and theatre legend Bhikhari Thakur (18 December, 1887- 10 July, 1971) is fondly called Bhojpuri Shakespeare. Thakur, who never went to school, made himself literate after watching Ramleela shows and later went on to capture his time and society.

Whether it was feudalism, untouchability, sharp caste divide or evil practice of selling off daughters for marriage or migration because of lack of job opportunities in Bihar, Thakur told these stories in the language of common people through dance and music on stage in villages and small towns mostly. He would often play his woman character, much to embarrassment of his wife. He was the writer and narrator.

Though his works – Bidesia, Beti Bechwa, Gabar Gheechor and Putravadha, are much celebrated, this exhibition is perhaps the first such attempt to pay tribute to the legend through paintings and also present a fusion of Bhojpuri and Mithila. Chitra Singh has tried to tell Thakur’s journey through some signature frames of his life and works.

Mrs Singh, a science graduate currently living at Patna, started sketching while she was studying in Class eight. Many years after she settled as a homemaker, she renewed her interest in painting and took to Mithila fine arts, which is deviation from traditional Mithcomila paintings. While she retains soul of the world-famous folk art, she looks for neo-Mithila works.

Though an ardent admirer of Bharati Dayal, Baua Devi and Sita Devi, she has developed her original style. Some of her critically acclaimed works are Dasrath Manjhi, Empowered Women, Journalism of Courage, Siddharth to Gautam, Solitary Girl and Beti Bachao, Beti Bachao. Her “devotion” series capture tales of Bharat, Hanuman, Kevat, Ahalya and Shabri.

She has also designed the stage of Nagaland Bhojpuri Samaj’s annual function at Dimapur in 2016 and was honoured by then Nagaland Governor PB Acharya. She represents Mithila paintings at Central government’s vlebazaar site of Common Service Centre as part of Digital India campaign.

Courtesy: The Statesman

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