Satyanarayan Sutar from Bassi, in Chittorgarh district, is adept at painting stories from the epics. He had never paid attention to the quality of scriptwriting and was nervous at moving out of his familiar domain.
As with all traditional artists, the divide in recognition and respect between a contemporary artist and a traditional one is a fairly great one. Yet it is forgotten that urban and rural artists are contemporary in their own spheres of existence, and many times these worlds overlap.
The 'kavad' has been redesigned for Akshara as a multipurpose cupboard to stand as an art piece of utility. It does, however, tell a story - of the artist’s journey from his village to many cities to look for that space and recognition as a contemporary artist that is due to him. All the usual bright colours of the traditional 'kavad' have been used, but with a new meaning. Cream tones have been used for the rural scenes and the soft orange depicts urban zones. Prussian blue highlights certain areas or people, and green is used only for the route of his journey.
The integration of the traditional with the contemporary is indicated by the presence of Kundana Bai, the patron priestess of the 'kavad' tradition - she is always hidden away somewhere in the 'kavad' - and the artist’s impression of modern art in a city art gallery, at the side of which he opens up this 'kavad' as his own mobile art gallery. So too the artist pleads for harmonizing the good from both sections of society - rural and urban - and, in a well-practised Devanagari hand, tells his personal story for Akshara along the green path he traverses.
Kaavad is a rich, oral tradition of storytelling in Rajasthan, believed to be 400 years old. Kaavad is also the name of the medium used for this kind of storytelling
Images from the making
Bassi is a Village in Chittaurgarh Tehsil in Chittorgarh District of Rajasthan State