Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Indian Classics By Living Master Baladev Moharatha

Baladev Moharatha has successfully translated masterpieces like Kalidas’ Ritusamharam, and Meghadootam into paintings, most of which revolve around a social concept. In this Indian Classics series showing at Ashok Art Gallery, he has used all his 35 years of experience to express the women in indian society and how they are changing


Recent Article on Baladev Moharatha in Indian National News Paper:
Source: New Indian Express

He wields the brush and palette with as much ease as his forefathers did with swords and shield. Yes, Baladev Moharatha comes from a family of warriors; so his taking to art naturally surprised many. But half a century later, his masterpieces answered questions about his brilliance on the canvas. Today, the middle-aged Moha­ratha is a multifaceted personality — a painter, visualiser, art educationist and poet, all assimilated into one though he has, for long, preferred to elude the limelight.

It was only in 2007 that Moharatha had his first solo art exhibition: ‘The Dejected Dusk’, in Delhi. “Art promotion had been a rarity here in Bhubaneswar. And shouldering the responsibility of taking our creations outside the state for solo shows was out of bounds. But once it took off, people recognised my roots — that I belong to Orissa…because my art reflects my moorings,” shrugs the artist, who specialises in traditional Indian style, with Goddess Durga, Oriyan architecture, medieval poetic elements and the Devadasis (temple dancers) being some of his pet themes.

“I dwell mostly on ordinary concepts — those that move me as a person. The weak that is the woman, the strongest that is also the woman in the form of Durga. I have lived with women of various age groups — my mother, wife and daughter…. And their issues reflect in my paintings,” points out Moharatha, who has extensively worked in themes taken from the Vedas and folk tales too.

Moharatha has successfully translated masterpieces like Kalidas’ Ritusamharam, and Meghadootam into paintings, most of which revolve around a social concept. “An artist needs to be a voracious reader. I have read Kalidas extensively and grasped the meaning before I started recreating them on the canvas,” reveals Moharatha, who is the chief architect behind one of the most prestigious art institutions of the State B K College of Art and Crafts.

How does the artist manage to give vent to his creative urge after so much responsibility? “Past midnight, mostly. See, creation is a process that doesn’t — or shouldn’t — abide by any time and schedule. Once an idea gets in, the layout is set. There is always a clash of concepts till I hold the brush. And I don’t draw a sketch, I hit the canvas straight.”

It was at the age of five that Baladev had his first brush with art. His mother was his first admirer. But it was only after he topped the entrance test at Khallikote Art College that the passion shaped up as a career prospect. “Else, my family wouldn’t have allowed me to pursue fine arts as a profession,” recalls Moharatha, who has designed covers for top litterateurs and has been in the panel of illustrators for the National Book Trust.

However, the artist takes umbrage when it comes to present-day artists’ fascination only for contemporary or modern art. “We should only work on the established notions and concepts so that the piece of art achieves a universal appeal. The moment we break the existing mould and look at it only from our point of view, it gives rise to an ‘ism’.” But he doesn’t forget to mention the use of certain surrealistic elements in one of his Durga paintings. “The eyeballs were conspicuous by their absence. It was a conscious and individualistic decision. With a reason: I felt I am seeing just one and not all. And I believe, most art lovers agree on.”

Moharatha regrets modern-day artists in India have yet to exploit the vastness and magnificence of Indian art, architecture and culture at large. “See, we have, at the end of the day, artists from other countries working on typical Indian spiritual themes. Else a Japanese artist would not have created a piece on Om theme and invited rave response. And such concepts audience easily relates to.”

Art, Moharatha believes, is much more than education. “One needs to have dedication, inspiration, love for the work, make it a way of life and — most importantly — seek divine blessings to be an artist. I am inspired by God and my studio is my home,” says the artist who devotes three to four hours a day to the canvas, “though, to be honest, I sincerely wish it was 15 hours.”

Planting trees is one interest Moharatha has besides painting. He once teamed up with flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia for a jugalbandi of sorts that won appreciation. What saddens him is the commodification of art, which Moharatha quickly attributes to the general absence of an art-appreciating audience and patrons. “People mostly want to acquire pieces of art marvels as gifts, and not buy them.” Lately, though, he acknowledges there has been some positive change.

“Possibilities in the field are immense. I have seen many of my own students waste their talent but there are more who have turned art promoters. Some are heading art institutions in the state and some have gone on to become designing heads in leading publishing houses,” says Moharatha. The teacher in him, though, isn’t too happy . Baladev lives and works in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India.

The Ashok Art Gallery is internationally known for one of its most important holdings: more than 2000 major works by the world's most significant Artists.Over the past years, as Ashok Art Gallery has become a major centre for contemporary visual art, the Gallery has built a strong collection of contemporary work of different artists.
Last year we became a sponsor of the STANDUP-SPEAKOUT Artshow, Organized by Art Of Living Foundation and United Nations.Organized an International Contenmporary Art Exhibition including artists from USA, The Nederlands, Pakistan and India.We have also participated at Art Expo India 2008 Mumbai and India Art Summit 2008 New Delhi.

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