How's that for eye-popping?! Most Indian art is, by definition, based on ancient techniques. So it is with Mithila painting. But my good friend Meenakshi Jha has reinterpreted both technique and subject in this unique collection, currently on display at the Lokayata Gallery in Hauz Khas Village, Delhi.
Meenakshi uses the fish as the central theme in all her paintings in both tongue-in-cheek and highly symbolic ways. The fish is an ancient symbol in both Hinduism and Buddhism, representing fertility, renewal, transformation.
This one, 'Anarchy', is my absolute favorite. Not only does it completely re-interpret the Mithila style, but it also has a very personal, endearing story behind it. It began as a series of scribbles by Meenakshi's husband, stressed after a particularly aggravating day at work. She then used his scribbles as a basis for a fish montage. Far from 'anarchy,' I think it's a wonderfully lifelike rendition of lots of fish going about their business. If only I could transform my domestic angst into something so beautiful!!
Another stunning re-interpretation. This time on three great faiths: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The first figure is Vishnu's fish avatar, Matsya. The second is Christ feeding the multitudes with five loaves and two fishes. The third is the story of Hazrat Younus, (the Prophet Jonah) who is punished by Allah for abandoning his duties preaching to the people of Nineveh and is imprisoned in the belly of a fish for three days and nights.
This one represents the Tree of Life. It's a vivid rendering of a Banyan tree which can live for three to four centuries and supports so many different creatures, including birds, reptiles and other plant life. It's ringed by intricately hand drawn repeating lotus and other flower motifs.
If you want to know more, purchase a piece or contact the artist, Meenakshi Jha, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.