International Miniature Painters' Camp at Thrissur

May 01, 2016 | Vol 8; Issue 2
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A report on International Miniature Painters' camp held at Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, Thrissur from 21-26 April 2016 

Kerala Lalithakala Akademi conducted a six day International Miniature Painters' camp at their campus at Thrissur from 21 April onwards. The emphasis was to bring together the varied traditions of miniature painting from different parts of India. About 40 artists, which included artists from India, Japan, Italy and Spain participated in the camp.

Miniature paintings are traditional paintings in tiny and movable canvas like palm leaf, cloths etc. As the name implies, they are paintings in minute scale, reflecting details that involves tedious and delicate brushwork.

Miniature painting is a unique art form which holds a prominent role in the Indian art history.  According to scholars, there are several references to miniature portraits in early literature, such as those by Kalidasa in Sakunthalam, and Dandi in Dasakumaracharitham written in the 7th Century AD. But the earliest surviving miniature paintings are on palm leaf from the tenth century.

“The two strong traditions of Indian fine arts are Murals and Miniature painting. Of these, Mural tradition is the oldest and Miniature painting got noticed since 10th century AD. In the camp we could organize artists from almost all kinds of miniature painting traditions- Kangra, Basholi, Pahadi, Garudadri, Pata, Mughal, Jaipur, Thanjavur, Mysore, Pithora and Kerala murals.” Said K U Krishnakumar, the Camp Coordinator and Executive Member of Lalithakala Akademi. 

Of the three artists from abroad, Sayaka Arase is from Japan and she is doing a research on the Indian and Japanese Art traditions. Another artist is Manuvela (Italy), specialized in Pahadi and Kangra painting styles from the Himalayas. Francina, the Artist from Spain, adopted the Rajasthan tradition.

Artist brothers Praful Kumar Maharana and Pramod Kumar Maharana from Odisha followed the 'Talapatra Chitra' style, the traditional miniature paintings in palm leaf. Another participant, Manimala Chitrakar from West Bengal is an artist in traditional style of painting called 'Pattachitra'.  Artists from Tamilnadu, R Krishnan aka Kitna from Ootty represented the 'Kurumba' tribal painting and Mahesh from Thanjavoor introduced the famous Thanjavoor paintings.  Harishankar Balothia from Jaipur was a Calligraphy artist.

There were seven artists from Kerala- P K Sadanandan, Suresh Muthukulam, Saju Thuruthil, Ajithan Puthumana, Ashokan Cheruvathur, Pratheesh C V  and Sreejith P C, who represented the traditional Kerala style mural, had drawn the pictures on small canvas/paper. 

“It was a great chance for all art students, art researchers and for all those who love and wish to know more about art to see and feel the vast spread branches of art” said Vaikom M K Shibu, the Secretary of Kerala Lalithakala Akademi.

An exhibition of miniature paintings by the camp participants was also held at the Art Gallery of the Akademi, on these days. The camp was enriched with Seminars, talks, art and music performances.

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