On display at the Rangoli Art Centre outside the MG Road Metro Station, Bhanu Dudhat’s painting has 88 panels on which the Valmiki Ramayana has been depicted. The first impression one gets on seeing the panels and the style, is that it resembles the Madhubani form.
“At first sight you might think this resembles Madhubani, but the ideas for details are incorporated from Saurashtra-based artwork, which is evident in my scroll painting,” Bhanu told The News Minute.
At first glance, Bhanu looks like MF Husain but he laughs it off, and says the late artist is not an inspiration, but adds that international art has influenced him but “the foundation of my works is based on Indian art”.
The biggest influence on his work is perhaps the paintings in the Ajanta caves. He says he is inspired by the precision, details, motifs and manner in which the colours remained preserved for the last 2,000 years.
Rama and Lakshmana killing Vali, brother of Angad
“I go to the caves at least five times a year. No international art boosts my imagination and creativity as this does,” Dudhat said. But his inspiration doesn’t end at that. Bhanu also attempts to preserves his work in the same way as the cave paintings have been kept intact.
Sita's agni pariksha
Helped by his wife Prabha and son Kailash, Bhanu worked on the painting for five years, often forgetting to eat for hours. Besides painting each scene in a fairly detailed manner, Bhanu has separated each panel by incorporating bamboo pillars.
But this is not his first attempt at painting a large canvas. In the early 1990s, Bhanu had painted the scenes from the Mahabharata on a 1,800-metre canvas, possibly making it the longest in the world. This painting is now with the Delhi-based Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts.
Ravana's darbar (court)
Bhanu is choosy about whom he sells his work. “I don't sell my artwork to people who want to mount it on their walls or curtains. It derides my work,” he said.
Keeping up with the times, the 66-year-old artist not only teaches art online to 22 students across the country, but has also begun experimenting with digital paintings and 3D art.
The scroll painting will be on display from October 12 to October 22.