Contemporary Interpretations of Chitrakathi Art

A look at the contemporary Interpretation of Chitrakathi Art from Maharashtra, India

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Chitrakathi Painting: Storytelling (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Chitrakathi art in Maharashtra

Chitrakathi developed in the form of small finely painted images about historic or religious events. 'Chitra' means painting and 'katha' is a story in any form. The combination of art and storytelling combines in the word 'chitrakathi', which represents a special art from of Maharashtra.  Chitrakathi is one performance art that is being revived through contemporary and traditional methods with attention to the quality of the painting even while there are only a few practising families remaining.

Chitrakathi Painting: The puppet show (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Chitrakathi combines fine art, singing, recitation, music, and even the addition of a puppet show.

This was the traditional entertainment package for rural families before the advent of cinema and television.

Chitrakathi Painting: New styles and techniques (2017) by Eknath GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

The art of Chitrakathi, story art, is associated with performances and storytelling by showing the relevant picture, while telling a story to an audience.

Today, this art also stands on its own as a form demanding to be recognised for its own traditional roots and charm.

Chitrakathi Painting: New mediums (2017) by Eknath GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

Chitrakathi is now made on handmade or mill made paper.

Chitrakathi Painting: New mediums (2017) by Eknath GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

Poster colours are generally used which give a brighter appearance when compared to old paintings, which were done with mineral or herbal colours.

Chitrakathi Painting: New paintings (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The outlining comes last, often leaving some ‘spread’ of water colour outside the outline.

This sometimes adds to somewhat hazy or patchy sections of the painting which are neither mistakes or unintentional.

Chitrakathi Painting: New paintings (2017) by Gangawane familyDastkari Haat Samiti

Artist Eknath Gangawane does a Chitrakathi painting.

Traditional subjects are painted, but contemporary themes are created as required by the buyers.

Chitrakathi Painting: New paintings (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The subject matter of the new Chitrakathi art remains similar to the old.

Chitrakathi Painting: New paintings (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Stories and characters from the Mahabharata and Ramayana are most popular and prominent.

Chitrakathi Painting: New paintings (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

However, they have been innovative enough to attempt some folk interpretations of animals which are painted as smaller wall art pieces.

Chitrakathi Painting: Design adaptations (2017) by Chetan GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

Contemporary interpretation

There are only a few families who have dedicated themselves to keeping the art of Chitrakathi alive. Besides making the paintings and holding traditional performances during the festival of Navrathri, they have been holding workshops on the art. In order to continue in their craft, they constantly have to adapt and innovate, taking up new themes and constantly reinterpreting their art.

Chitrakathi Painting: Design adaptations (2017) by Chetan GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

The Gangawane family say that many visitors ask for books on their art form but since these are not available, they ventured into making book marks instead.

Chitrakathi Painting: Design adaptations (2017) by Chetan GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

Postcards are a new product in Chitrakathi art. They are made to suit tourists who come to their small establishment to discover this long forgotten art form.

Chitrakathi Painting: Design adaptations (2017) by Chetan GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

Small bookmarks are also souvenir items available at the chitrakathi museum created by the artist family through love of their art and heritage.

Chitrakathi Painting: Design adaptations (2017) by Chetan GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

Chitrakathi puppets have been photographed and turned into bookmarks as souvenirs for visitors whom the Chitrakathi artists welcome through their own websites.

Chitrakathi Painting: Design adaptations (2017) by Chetan GangawaneDastkari Haat Samiti

Paintings have also been converted into digital prints on t-shirts.

Chitrakathi Painting: Community art (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Apart from merchandise, the community did a wall art, which is written in Devanagari script and painted with Chitrakathi art in it.

Chitrakathi Painting: Habitat and Community (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Chitrakathi art can also be spotted done on the trees around Gangawane's museum.

Chitrakathi Painting: For storytelling and puppetry (2017)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Credits: Story

Text: Jaya Jaitly
Photography: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: Parshuram Gangawane and family
Ground Facilitator: Ankit Kumar, Vishpala Hundekari
Documentary Video: Ankit Kumar
Curation: Aradhana Nagpal

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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