When I heard about this book I knew I wanted it. When I found it on Amazon I ordered it straight away. And what a feast it was to open it! I’ve really become more and more drawn to the bold colors and outlines of traditional Indian and African traditional art. I guess it’s a very healthy contrast to the prevailing mid-century aesthetics in children’s books and graphic novels today.
I really love that clean, simple fifties style, powdery hues of dirty pastels: sincere and low-key at its best, but on the verge of repetitive and bland at its worst. At times when I’ve seen a bit too much same-same, I long to dip my head into a great big bucket of fat bold paint and emerge an avid Mithila Art Colorist…
This book is a gem: It’s published by Tara Books Publishing Company, an outstanding, small-scale editor focusing on traditional art- mainly india – with a special line of hand-made editions. You really should check them out!
Waterlife comes in a limited edition of 3,000 hand-numbered copies. It contains 28 pages, each one silk- screen-printed on hand-made paper by local artisans in Cheenai, India. They exclusively use traditional, hand-made dyes, made by a laborious process of gathering herbs and roots, which are then prepared into vivid colors. The paper is thick and luscious, and – yes – when you leaf through it you get a wiff of earthy scents of the dyes floating up from the pages.
The beautiful and vibrant colors are really amazing, and I’m so glad I got it! Pictures just can’t do this book justice! I tried to scan it for pictures this morning, but it was impossible to make it come out as vibrant as in real life. Most of the above beautiful photos are courtesy of Tara Books and Bookpicker.
I will come back tomorrow with a post on the Mithila tradition.
Rambharos Jha grew up on the banks of the river Ganga, and he developed an early fascination for water life. His father worked in a non-government supported art and culture project and he was brought up in an environment influenced by women painting in the traditional Mithila style. At the age of five or six he was inspired to start painting himself. But the decision to make painting a career was made, he says, after failing a particularly important English exam. He not only got low grades, he got a zero. He vas devastated, but his father just told him to stop feeling sorry for himself and learn from what had happened. He should stop fooling around and take charge of his life Since then Rambharos Jha decided to focus on following his artistic dreams, and is intent on developing the Mithila tradition into his very own style .
Waterlife is his first book.
These artists are some of the most important inspirations for his works:
This is another book I really would like to get my hands on…
Also from the wonderful Tara Books Publishing Company.