Monday, September 9, 2013

Journey of a traditional artist

Okay, another blog about another Tara Books publication.

Waterlife by Rambharos Jha.

But this one is so beautiful I just had to let you know about it. 

It’s another handmade book with gorgeous textured paper and coloured printed illustrations (you can smell the ink) that are so lush and vibrant they shimmy on the page.  A piece of art you can hold in your hands.  (Has anyone noticed that Tara has started numbering their handmade books?)

The author/illustrator, Rambharos Jha is an artist born in the Mithila region in India.  Growing up, he was influenced by the women who traditionally painted the walls, floors and courtyards of their homes during festivals, participating in a government supported program that gave them opportunities to earn a living from their artistic endeavours.

Rambharos Jha learned to draw by watching.  He came to appreciate the accessibility of the dyes and colours derived from nature, local markets and household detritus (such as lamp soot) that coloured his paints.

Starting with Hindu mythology, his art work reflected these traditional stories while he learned how to detail in a traditional style and motifs.  Gradually, he began to follow his “own creative impulse, and to register the impact, like all artists do, of my surroundings, the place and time I found myself in…I was now beginning to journey into my imagination. I was also working with new colours, having begun to use acrylic paint.  During this experimental phase, I started doing pictures of water…”

In this book, his illustrations reflect the meshing traditional motifs (fish, turtles, crabs, snakes) and traditional line patterning with his interest in the natural world centred around water.
"It is an enormous challenge, even technically speaking: how for instance, is he to show movement using the conventions of an art form that is essentially static?  Rambharos does it masterfully: he adapts the Mithila tradition of signifying water through fine lines but extends it into a complex whorl of eddies and currents.  He solves the problem of naturalism by side-stepping it elegantly, giving his fish, tortoises and crabs and home and habitat in water – while keeping essentially with their traditional symbolic representation.  Sometimes he invents creatures like the lobster who never appear in Mithila art.  At other times he plays with his swans and lotuses as they appear within a conventional Mithila composition." --from publisher, Gita Wolf
This is the journey of many artists. Creativity is about  blending tradition with the artist's own yearnings to create something fresh and of their own.

Highly recommended.  This book is an art piece and could be used with all age groups for that reason alone.  

Today is Nonfiction Monday, a blogging event that celebrates nonfiction children's literature.  Please stop by Wendie's Wanderings for see a raft of reviews.


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