MMT is hosting an exhibition of hand-painted Kalahasti Kalamkari from Thursday March 1 to Saturday March 3. The artworks are the work of Ramachandraiah, one of the senior artists and the specific attraction of these is that they are entirely painted with natural vegetable colours, unlike most of the usual ones, which use chemical blue. Actually it is a mistake to call them 'paintings', as the art involves a complex series -23 stages - of fabric treatment, drawing, dyeing, washing as well as painting, all done by hand.
Here is a brief note on the process:
The ancient craft of hand-painted narrative Kalamkari in Kalahasti dates back several centuries and involves both art and technique.
Kalahasti kalamkari began perhaps as early as the 1st century CE as backdrops and canopies for the deities in local temples, depicting stories from the Ramayana & Mahabharata and local legends. When Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay visited Kalahasti after Independence, she found just two artists practicing kalamkari, and persuaded one of them to teach the art to others through a government supported programme. At present there are about 30 artists practicing Kalahasti kalamkari, including the grandson of the original artist.
Kalahasti kalamkari involves a complex 23-stage process beginning with the treatment of cloth with myrobalan [harda, terminalia chebula]& milk, preparation of the dyes, drawing, painting, dyeing and several washings in running water at different stages. The colours used are mostly vegetable, through in recent times indigo has been replaced by chemical blue.
Recently too other stories have begun to be depicted, such as the Panchatantra, as well as non-traditional stories.
Hope to see you there!