Neelkant Choudhary’s solo show titled Feminine Divine, a solo show of contemporary Madhubani art that celebrates feminine energy
@ Gallerie Ganesha, New Delhi, Nov 7 to Dec 3, 2019
New Delhi: Madhubani folk art from Mithila region of Bihar is in itself a highly intricate and colourful art depicting mostly Hindu gods and goddesses from Indian mythology. But in Baroda-based artist Neelkant Choudhary’s hand, these taken on a stylized, contemporary form that use a global iconography. Although Choudhary remains loyal to the traditional Madhubani templates, he has innovated with icons and figures in a manner no contemporary folk painter has. He brings to Madhubani painting the freshness of his courage to experiment and innovate. Twenty five of such artworks will be showcased in an exhibition of mixed media on paper titled Feminine Divine at Gallerie Ganesha, E-557, Greater Kailsah-II, New Delhi, from November 7 till December 3, 2019, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Choudhary started painting from a very early age, and born in Darbhanga, Bihar, his immediate inspiration was the Madhubani art that surrounded him. He, however, went on to study humanities as “my family didn’t really think I could support myself as an artist”. It was only when a famous Madhubani painter Chandrakala and, then later, art impresario Rajeev Sethi encouraged him to take his art more seriously, that he began doing the rounds of art galleries in India. “At that times art galleries just turned me away when I told them I painted in the Madhubani folk style. My first big break came when I showcased at Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur (1996) and then at Lalit Kala Akademi (1999). I was noticed by several gallerists. Shobha Bhatia of Gallerie Ganesha then bought my work and since then, there has been no looking back.”
“Traditional Madhubani art is my essential form but my effort has been to bring new, more contemporary images to a style that was becoming stagnant and typecast. My work is a merger of the traditional and modern. My motifs derive as much from the streets of New Delhi to visit to Golconda, from temples of Nepal to Egyptian figures. If Madhubani has to survive, it has to adapt to the times without necessarily deserting its traditional essentials,” says the 56-year-old, who is a self-taught artist, having graduated in Arts from Punjab University.
Speaking about the current show, he says, “Women in this century have assumed many roles and responsibilities which were perhaps not possible for them to shoulder before. And they do so with utmost grace, so much so that people suppose it all comes natural to them. What one doesn’t realise is the strength that goes behind being such an exemplar of beauty, hard-work, and patience. These qualities of women should go far from being unnoticed. My paintings intend to celebrate the very essence of being a woman In. the times we live in, it is ironic how women are often robbed of respect because they do not fit into the standards we set for them. We call them goddesses on one hand and on the other, we try to shame them, subdue them. Through these paintings, I intend to show how synonymous ‘woman’ is with ‘goddess’ by highlighting the beauty and resilience of the feminine energy.”