Families of over 100 Pichavai artists from Rajasthan can look forward to a rosy future with the Reliance Foundation having engaged them for two years and the paintings done by them would don the Reliance Industries Limited headquarters, other offices, hospitals and the convention centre that is coming up in Mumbai.
Nita Ambani, chairperson of Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the RIL, said in Ahmedabad on Wednesday that by Diwali the artists would prepare about 700 paintings and these would be used for corporate gifting.
Supporting the artists was part of the Foundation’s efforts to keep the art, culture and heritage of the country alive, Ambani said. “We have begun with Pichavi paintings as my entire family is Lord Krishna’s devotees and we keep going to Nathdwara, Rajasthan,” she said.
Pichavi is an art form that involves intricate paintings on textiles that are hung behind the idol of Shrinathji. The paintings, made out of natural water colour and gold lining, depict life centered around Lord Krishna.
The art form that developed in the 17th century is a tradition of the Pushtimarg sect, founded by Saint Vallabhacharya about 500 years ago.
The artists, Ambani said, are struggling to keep the art form alive. The artists would be paid on the basis of the number of paintings they make.
Twenty-five-year-old Rahul Sharma told THE WEEK that there is no machine work involved in making the paintings. It is done by hands. “We have been doing this for ages; maybe I represent the sixth generation or even more,” he said.
Another artist, 40-year-old Lokesh Sharma, said the number of days required to make one painting depends on the number of people who get involved in making the particular painting. It can take a couple of days to a couple of months, he said.
In the cheaper paintings, the gold lining is missing. This, he said, depends on the budget of the buyer.
Lokesh claimed that the family earns around Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 a month by making paintings. The price of the paintings ranges from a few thousand rupees to over a lakh depending on the size.
Rahul said that the efforts of the Reliance Foundation would help them in getting touch with more people.
The artists stay in and around Nathdwara, which is around 45 kilometer away from Udaipur.