Monday, March 22, 2010

Private Residential Museum - Mysore style paintings

If one wants to look at the private collection of Mysore paintings of royal family of Wodeyars, then the best place in Mysore is the Private Residential Museum. This museum is inside the premises of Mysore palace, just behind the main palace, near Kille Venkataramana temple.

I went there yesterday after a gap of almost 12 years to have a look at the paintings. The entry fee is Rs. 25 (Rs. 200 for foreign nationals, I find this ridiculous). Exhibits there contain many things, objects, furnitures etc., that were used by the royal family. But my main interest was Mysore paintings which are in quite a good number.

The first gallery is around an open-to-sky hexagonal thotti. At the far end of the thotti, the walls are adorned with paintings from Bhagavata illustrating the childhood and leelas of Krishna. Unusual thing is that these are done on canvas with oil colours. The sizes of canvas vary and seems to me that these were made for decorating the walls of a temple.

Adjoining this thotti is a big quadrangle, once again the center is open to the sky. All four walls have wooden galleries for royal ladies to sit and see the proceedings in privacy. Royal robes, accessories, palanquins are on display in this hall. Two narrow rooms adjoining this central hall have Mysore style paintings. The first of these two rooms have smaller paintings. There are two paintings which are round in shape which is quite unusual. One of the corner room has a painting by palace painter Y. Sundaraih which depicts Bheema receiving the blessing of Shiva. One painting depicts Nagas (snakes) which is very unusual. All snakes bear names.

In the second narrow room there are three paitings. One is Chakra which depicts Ramayana in small niches within. The second is Tripundra with Dashavatara and Lakshmi. Third painting is Shankha depicting Krishna leela from Bhagavata. As I moved away from this painting and on to the next, I was awe struck with what I beheld! A magnificent painting of Saraswati. My mind is still reeling recalling the minute detailed work all over this painting. Artist has not stopped with the canvas, he has painted with gesso on even the frame with same finesse and detail. Undoubtedly this is a masterpiece done by a master artist. Hats off to the artist. Another painting (Mahisha Mardini) of the same artist adorn the next frame. My day was made by these two paintings.

After this I just glided through to the exit.

If you are a connoisseur of Mysore style paintings, then these two paintings are a must see.

R.G. Singh - Maverick behind Ramsons Kala Pratishtana

Speaking as the Chief Guest at the inauguration of an art exhibition. 16 May 2011

R. Gyaneshwar Singh (b. 24 January 1967) is the second son of Sri D. Ram Singh and Smt. R. Kaladevi. Sri D. Ram Singh is a pioneer in the manufacturing and retailing of handicrafts since the last five decades in Mysuru.

R. Gyaneshwar Singh is known as RG in the city’s arts and aesthetic circles while close friends prefer to call him, ‘Gyani’ 

Ensnared by the magic of traditional paintings, old sepia photographs pertaining to the city of Mysuru and beautiful artefacts, RG became a collector while still a teenager. 

His first sight of a classical Mysore Style of Painting that hung in his ancestral home, led to embark on a mission to collect these paintings. He scoured the old photo-frame shops in Mysore buying faded old classic paintings. In fact it was while he was still in college that he bought his very first Mysore School of painting from a photo-frame shop in the city with his pocket money. From that beginning he built an enviable collection of Mysore Style Paintings. To nurture the Mysore Style of Painting, RG commissioned artists to specially create these masterpieces. Today Ramsons Kala Pratishtana has a private museum of these paintings in Mysuru. 

It was this passion for art and all that is related to art that led RG to take on the role of Honorary Secretary of the Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, a trust established by his father, Sri D. Ram Singh. Under the aegis of the Ramsons Kala Pratishtana Trust, RG was instrumental in reviving the ancient Doll Display Tradition of Karnataka as well as Traditional Board Games of India by hosting exhibitions that have today become iconic annual ‘must-see’ programmes on everyone’s itinerary be it the tourist or the Mysorean.

He, along with Raghu Dharmendra and Dr. C.R. Dileep Kumar Gowda, has conducted extensive research in the field of traditional board games of India since the year 2000. As part of Kreedaa Kaushalya, RG and his team mates have taught how to play traditional Indian board games to more than a thousand adults and children at various camps and workshops as resource persons since 2007.

L-R: Dr. C.R. Dileep Kumar Gowda, Raghu Dharmendra, Smt. Prema Simha and RG Singh at Kalale

RG has organised following special thematic exhibitions...

  1. Durge Durgatihaari - an exhibition of Mysore paintings depicting Durga in her avatars - 1999
  2. Exhibition of Mysore Paintings of artist K.S. Shreehari - 2001
  3. Kala Sampark - an exhibition of crafts of Karnataka - 2002
  4. Veda Kala - an exhibition of paintings of G.L.N. Simha interpreting Vedic Suktas - 2002
  5. Exhibition of Mysore Paintings of artist B.P. Ramakrishna - 2002
  6. Ganapaa - an exhibition of Ganesha images - 2005
  7. Mysore Masters - an exhibition of paintings of bygone artists (1830-2009) of Mysore - 2009. Works of distinguished artists who adorned the royal court of Mysore, worked in Mysore and accomplished artists who had a Mysore connection were included in this mammoth show
  8. Divya Varna - an exhibition of paintings of G.L.N. Simha - 2011
  9. Puttaraju Works Ravi Varma - an exhibition of inlay marquetry panels - 2011. A year-long project in which 37 select paintings of master artist Raja Ravi Varma were rendered in the art of inlay-marquetry unique to Mysore by master artist R. Puttaraju which culminated in a successful exhibition
  10. Baaro Krishnayya - an exhibition of Krishna in art - 2012
  11. Kalaa Dhaaraa - a 78-day expo of contemporary/traditional art of about 90 artists of Karnataka - 2014
  12. Bombe Mane - a unique annual exhibition of dolls highlighting the doll tradition of India - 2005 to 2017
  13. Kreedaa Kaushalya - annual exhibition of handcrafted board games and commissioned paintings on games - 2007 to 2017
  14. Deepa Soundarya - annual exhibition of lamps in various media from across India - 2008-2017

RG conducted following activities under the aegis of RKP.

  • 1995 to 1999 - National level Shilpashree award programme conducted
  • 1995 to 2006 - Rotary Ramsons Kala Pratishtana Award programme
  • 2007 to 2017 - Ramsons Kala Pratishtana award presentation in association with Karnataka Shilpakala Academy
  • 2005 - a twelve day traditional bronze casting workshop in association with Karnataka Shilpakala Academy
  • 2012 - Varnamrita - a seven day painting camp for ten artists in association with Artists Forum of Udupi
  • 2006 to 2017 - A six-page calendar of commissioned artworks with a special theme highlighting the cultural aspects of Karnataka is being released every year which has gained immense popularity
RG has commissioned art works from several artists (both contemporary and traditional) for the art repository of RKP. Art works of following artists are in the collection of RKP.

Mukta Venkatesh, M.J. Shuddodhana, G.L.N. Simha, B.K.S. Varma, Vijay Hagargundgi, N. Kamalesh, Raghupati Bhat, M.S. Nirmal Kumar, G.Y. Hublikar, Chandranath Acharya, B.P. Ramakrishna, J.M.S. Mani, Ramesh Rao, Bhaskar Rao, K.S. Shreehari, Prabha Mallesh, Manish Verma, K.V. Kale, Srinivas Reddy, Kamal Ahmed, Sridhar Rao, M. Girija, Giridhar Goud, Ramesh Selluturai, F.V. Chikmath, Manjunath Mane, B.B. Raghavendra, Purushotham Adve, G. Subramanian, Jagadish Kamble, M.V. Kambar, Sunil Mathad, Balu Sadalge, Sindhu Kamath, M.R. Pavanje, R.G. Hegde, Ganesh Somayaji, S.S. Shimpi, etc.

RG has also published, through Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, several monographs like, ‘Mysore Masters,’ ‘Puttaraju works Ravi Varma’ apart from a pictorial journal, 'Mysore Palace – Celebrating a century' published in 2012. 

RG has given talks and lectures on art and heritage at events like the International Art Symposium organised by Sri Guru Vidyapeetha of Kalburgi (Gulbarga) and at Rotary Clubs, the Suttur Mutt (Suttur), INTACH (at New Delhi and Bengaluru), IGNCA (Bengaluru), NGMA (Bengaluru), Central Lalitkala Akademi (New Delhi), 19th International Board Game Studies Colloquium (Nuremberg, Germany) and VAG Forum (Bengaluru).

His skills as an orator were honed in school and college (both during his graduate and post graduate days) when he was actively involved as a member of the Rotaract Club and he has also held the post of District Rotaract Representative of Rotary International District 3180 (1994-1995). It was also during his school and college days that he became a philatelist and his collection of stamps on Rotary International is enviable. 

 RG has given several multi-media presentations on following subjects:

  • Rotary on Stamps
  • Pearls
  • Kreedaa Kaushalya - Indian Traditional Board Games
  • Vijay Hagargundgi - Surapura Miniaturist
  • Mysore Palace - Celebrating a Century
  • Mantra Mukura - Art of GLN Simha
  • Traditional Dolls of Karnataka

When he is not busy with his work with the Trust and with the family business of fine arts and handicrafts, RG prefers to relax with a book. His choice veers towards non-fiction and authors like Khushwant Singh, Mark Tully, R.K. Narayan, S.K. Ramachandra Rao and William Dalrymple.

He, has co-authored a book 'Indian Traditional Boardgames - A Guide to the Art of Play' which was released at the 19th International Board Game Studies Colloquium at Nuremberg, Germany in April 2016.

RG attributes his foray in the world of art, as a connoisseur, to the atmosphere of art created by his father Sri D. Ram Singh and mentoring by his late uncle M.B. Singh.