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Naynaben Bhavsar

Celebrating Pithora painting traditions

The delicately detailed paintings of Naynaben Bhavsar comprise themes both timeless and universal. Hunting scenes, for example, are rendered in stark clarity, yet have an intriguing, innate sensitivity that transcends any one genre. Her prolific atelier also captures regional imagery of brightly adorned dancers, set against monochromatic backgrounds that allow the viewer to focus on the subjects in the foreground.

The painters work in a style known as Pithora, an ancient technique informed by spirituality rather than logic, and traditionally made to adorn the interior walls of homes by several groups native to India’s Gujarat region. These are paintings that not only convey a sense of peace and happiness, but also are said to conjure those same good feelings within the homes they adorn. Traditionally, Pithora paintings cover entire walls, which are first treated with priming layers of cow dung paste and white chalk powder. Next, the artist uses his or her imagination to transfer brilliantly colorful designs, replete with both abstract and figurative elements.

Pithora paintings have roots in cave paintings from thousands of years ago and remain the most prevalent and characteristic art tradition in Gujarat. It’s a beloved tradition, and the completion of a painting is accompanied with song, dance and celebration.