Hanuman Chalisa is based on a well-known Hindu hymn, comprising 40 verses on the tales of Hanuman and recited by millions of people throughout India every day. There are more temples in India dedicated to Hanuman than to any other god, and he remains a beloved figure recounted in various Hindu stories throughout Asia, including the loyal devotee of Rama in the Ramayana.
Kalyan Joshi is from the Joshi family of Bhilwara in Rajasthan, the traditional artists to practice Phad painting. In local dialect, the word ‘phad’ (fold) refers to the rolling and unrolling of scrolls that were customarily made of starch-primed cloth, a tradition dating back more than 700 years. Phads illustrate epic stories composed around a central deity, either Pabuji or Dev Narayan, two deified heroes important in Rajasthan. The scrolls are performed by a different community, the Bhopas. They are unrolled after sunset and form a visual backdrop to all-night performances accompanied by music, song and dance.
The making of phads, which are performed to illustrate Hindu stories and teachings, is a deeply sacred practice. The state of Rajasthan is known for its rich artistic traditions and was the home of the Rajput kingdom, where miniature painting flourished, popularising the Hindu styles in particular rather than the Mughals’ secular art. In these detailed works, Joshi depicts subjects at the heart of Hindu worship.
Phads are painted with natural pigments, predominantly red, orange, yellow, green, blue and black. Yellow comes from the mica mines in the hills around Bhilwara. Red, representing the chivalry of the Rajputs of Mewar, comes from the Sangrak stone from the Himalayas. Orange is sindhur, a natural colour from the earth, and indigo (once farmed in the region) is used for blue. Brown is made from mud from the mines, and black from chimney soot. The paintings are non-linear and scatter multiple dimensions of time, space and scale across the canvas. The pupil of the eye is painted last, at which point the painting comes to life and becomes a sacred object. The artists can no longer sit on it to work.
Exhibited in 'The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT8) | 21 Nov 2015 – 10 Apr 2016