Raja Ravi Varma
Raja Ravi Varma, the most celebrated of Indian artists, has had an immense impact on the way art is viewed, appreciated and consumed in India. Never before Raja Ravi Varma had our gods and goddesses, heroes and religious icons looked so close to life. Suddenly, the legends had stepped out of holy scriptures and temples and were in our homes. In his art, the gods and goddesses often lived, laughed and loved like us. The Father of Modern Art in India, in a way, reshaped religiosity with realism.
In Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings, Indian mythology found a life-like depiction. When Shakuntala pretended to take a thorn out of her foot and stealthily look for Dushyanth, the longing in her eyes was palpable. When Ravan cut off Jatayu’s wings with his sword, the pain was evident in each falling feather and the horror writ large on Sita’s hidden face. The mischief in the eyes of baby Krishna found a true reflection in every child’s face.
The first prominent Indian artist to use oil paints, Raja Ravi Varma married European techniques and Indian sensibilities, to immortalise characters from our finest epics, folklore as well as contemporary socio-political scene.
Raja Ravi Varma’s most enduring legacy was the Ravi Varma Press, which took art to the homes of the common man. Iconic images of Lakshmi, Saraswati and Ganapati started adorning walls. Art was not just appreciated by the elite anymore, it had found a resonance with the common man.
Raja Ravi Varma blended European realism with Indian aesthetics to bring to life scenes from the epics and puranas. Gods, goddesses, heroes, royalty, musicians, gypsies and cultured women caught in the most contemplative moods have contributed to the staggering range of his oeuvre.
By mass producing his paintings as oleographs, he helped an entire nation access and appreciate art.
To celebrate the genius of Raja Ravi Varma, Art Cafe brings to you an enchanting collection of original oleographs printed at the Ravi Varma Press, in Malavli, Maharashtra, in the early 20th Century.
Normal age-related wear and tear are to be expected.