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• “The creative process would also reveal his obsession for the revival of the incredible mysticism of indigenous heritage. His relent commitment for the resurgence of the indigenous is so vibrant that
After twenty years of his retirement as university professor and Dena of Fine arts he has been travelling around the villages near Ranathambhaur motivating village women for revival languishing pictorial art for “Mandana art
-Transformational -Visionary Cultural activist –- Creativity is an expression that differs from individual to individual. It is with the help of one’s inner-self and passion for life, one finds way for creative manifestation and succeeds in making their own identity. Creative ability of a person does not follow any definite path and has freedom of thought. A slice of this creativity can be witnessed in the villages of Ranthambore (which is also famous for Ranthambore National Park – Tiger Reserve) in the SawaiMadhopurdistrict, Rajasthan. In the olden days the womenfolk in the villages used to draw beautiful mandanas and murals on the mud walls and floors of their village huts. They used local colours such as Hirmich (red brown clay), pillimitti (ochre clay), and Khadimitti (white clay), which gave the local huts an identity of its own. Those were highly spectacular forms of our tribal art, which enclosed a vast variety of the wildlife and the local surroundings that were represented in a stylistic format capable of inspiring even the modernists and the designers. Through these indigenous artwork, the villagers used to celebrate their festivals. This tradition was very much in vogue since ages. There was hardly any hut without a beautifully painted mandanas. Every exterior and interior space around the huts were decorated with mandanas and murals. Those were unique form of art with inherent and spontaneous configurations and which were widely appreciated by the modernists because of the stylistic nuances and variety of themes. All the art loving tourists (local and foreigners) and connoisseurs while travelling through the villages of Ranthambore, were so enamored by the beautiful mandanas which were painted on the mud walls and floors of every huts that they captured those images in their cameras. An american friend of Dr Mehta rightly quoted “in an age of nonrealistic / nonrepresentational art scenario, the art lovers today admire such perceptive mandanas as the most effortless abstract artworks, since the village women-folk never learnt or studied the contours of nature”. The village women were unaware of its creative potential and mystic fantasy. They got surprised when the foreigners sought their permission to photograph these enchanting creations. Those were like open art galleries. This tradition has even grabbed the attention of researchers for their survey, documentation and ethno-study. Articles and dissertations had been published on various aspects of the indigenous tradition. It was a fascinating experience to watch them paint without a pre-sketch or layout. Two researchers who were Dr Mehta’s students from the University of Visual arts had been awarded doctoral degrees for their research works on these indigenous art. Dr Mehta was fascinated when he visited those villages for an analytical and in-depth study. Nearly twenty years later after becoming the chairperson of an NGO- AAYAM INSTITUTE OF ART AND CULTURE, JAIPUR, when Dr Mehta paid a visit to the villages he was highly disappointed to find that there were hardly any village hut which had any beautiful mandanas painted on its walls. The choukmandanas – floral decorations however continued to be painted on the mud coated floors. In the recent past, the up gradation of the village huts into houses of brick and mortar under government schemes, was the reason behind the fading away of the open art
galleries. Dr Mehta being a cultural activist and visionary resolved to revive this tribal art form. Under his leadership, AAYAM INSTITUTE OF ART AND CULTURE, JAIPUR initiated a mission for the revival of the tribal mandana art of Ranthambore. In this – 13 respect, a detailed plan of action was chalked out to revive the tribal art and at the same time to ensure livelihood for the village women painters who generally belong to the weaker sections of the society. Aayam’s team of professional artists has relentlessly trained these women to paint the same mandanas done on walls, on handmade sheets with new colours and brushes. Though these painting are done in new colours, they exuberated the same flow and generic motifs that they grew up watching. Without any references or any pre-thought concepts, these ladies painted some incredible artworks each of which were so unique. Once a journalist asked Dr Mehta why he was roaming around the villages near Ranthambore at this age, to which Dr Mehta replied “in my career spanning for nearly five decades, as an artist, architectural designer, academician, I have received so much that now I want to return back to the society through this revival mission”.