Rupa-bhava-shringaram - the essence of the visual image of Srinathji find expression in the finely delineated baareek kalam pichwais by artist Jai Khanna. Over the last few months as I set to work on this exhibition, going through his works gave me a strange sensation of being in the powerful presence of Krishna in entirety. Then, Jai confided - “Srinathji Swaroopam is the basis of my existence. Even though I knew nothing about him, visions of him would lie imprinted on my mind so I would always paint him in those forms. This body of works is really a manifestation of Srinathji as he would appear repeatedly in my dreams; I’ve painted him in the closest likeness possible to the powerful presence of his persona focusing on his sublime darshana.” Jai’s oeuvre is a palimpsest in which one gets a glimpse of millions of devotees’ hearts. Showcasing some 30 contemporary works on silk and paper, for the first time, this traditional form of art has been redefined within an urban milieu through an artist’s signature works, their simplistic narrative reinforced with his personal vision. Compositionally, the artist has introduced imagery hitherto unseen, infusing the art form with newer features and visual elements.
He contemplates on the manifest or Prakatya Swaroopa of Srinathji as prescribed in the ancient texts. Remaining true to the iconographical representation, he reinterprets the form through dream imagery and experimentation. The works resonate with absolute devotion but their contemporary attitude is undeniable. Though impetus is being given to traditional Indian arts and crafts through various organisations, the art of making pichwais remains predominantly a school of artisans. The purpose of this exhibition then, is to inspire signature within the rural and traditional crafts and ultimately, to view it over time within the ambit of mainstream contemporary art.