For the first time ever, two gigantic scroll paintings, each about one kilometre long, will be exhibited at the India Gate, as part of the upcoming Republic Day celebrations. The scrolls, created by around 500 Indian artists during workshops as part of National Gallery of Modern Art’s (NGMA) recent Kala Kumbhs in the cities of Chandigarh and Bhubaneshwar (Odisha). Depicting the unsung heroes of India’s freedom movement, these scrolls will add an artistic touch to the R-Day fervour.

Adwaita Gadanayak, director general, NGMA informs, “These scrolls celebrating the unsung heroes of India. Indigenous, traditional and contemporary artists have worked in the same emotion to make them… We will begin installing these scrolls about 10 days before the parade day, and these will be visible at an open gallery at the Rajpath on January 26. This will help connect India’s artists with the public.” And, “It’s for the first time something like this would be exhibited at Republic Day,” says Ruchi Singh Baoni, curator at NGMA.

Members of National Cadet Corps have also painted their creative interpretation of India’s freedom struggle, on these scrolls.

The making of the scroll, which began on December 11 in Odisha, also draws from the creative illustrations in the Constitution of India and elements painted by late artist Nandalal Bose and his team. It’s also a part of the ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which celebrates 75 years of India.

Heroic tales from across the country have found space on these scrolls.
Heroic tales from across the country have found space on these scrolls.

The artists from Bhubaneswar have weaved tales of heroism and tales of independence struggle from Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bengal, and even Northeast India such as Andhra Pradesh. Art forms such as Pattachitra, Talapatra Chitra, Manjusa, Madhubani and Jadu Patua have thus found space on these scrolls. In Chandigarh, the artists painted tales of valour of unsung heroes from Ladakh, Jammu, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan, using art forms such as Phad, Pichwai, Miniature, Kalamkari, Mandana, Thangka and Warli.

Shyam Sunder Sharma, an artist from Rajasthan’s Nathdwara says, “We are traditional Pichwai artists, and my family has been doing this art since almost five generations. I, too, have learnt this beautiful Rajasthani art form from my forefathers. It’s great to know that the 400-year-old Pichwai art, which is now getting lost, will be shown at a national level like this. My team of artists, which also comprises my son Jatin Sharma, has used Pichwai motifs to represent Maharana Pratap and the queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai.”

Author tweets @siddhijainn

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