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My art is eco-friendly: Madhu Jain

    Over fifteen hundred eco-friendly colours, rolls of imported natural handmade paper and a very unique style of painting called Nihonga – that is what Madhu Jain’s exhibition ‘Nihonga – A Japanese Style’ is about.


    Mumbai (Maharashtra), January 13, 2011: The artist, using special rock powders derived from natural minerals, shells, corals, semi-precious stones, gold and silver leaves has created Nihongas that have an unmistakable Indian touch. The exhibition, a part of the event to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between India and Japan, will be on till early next week.

    The Counsul General of Japan Tamon Mochida, who was present on the first day of the exhibition appreciated the work and said, “These paintings are not Indian; they are a collaboration of Japanese techniques and pigments but the theme is very Indian. And it showcases the Indo-Japanese association.”

    After 35 years of water and oil paintings, Madhu, impressed with the Nihongas she saw at an exhibition in Japan, decided to learn the unique and traditional art form. She studied the language for seven years, so that she could learn the techniques from the masters who could not impart the knowledge in any other language.

    “My art has been appreciated worldwide and I’ve had many international and national exhibitions. This technique of using rock pigments originated in India but it has long gone from our country and is no longer known or used by anyone here. I am perhaps the only artist who does this work,” said Madhu.

    The paintings are done on Washi paper rolls that are a type of handmade paper from fibers of plants. Shell powder or Gofun is derived from weathered natural oyster shells, which are crushed, ground with a stone mill, refined with water and dried naturally. Madhu explains, “There are different gradations of the powders and each gives a different effect. I use resin or Nikawa – available in the form of crystals or long sticks – to make the glue in a double boiler. This resin and a few drops of water is added to the pigment and then the painting is done using Japanese brushes. The water evaporates and then the glue helps the pigments to stick to the handmade paper.”

    This technique, claims Madhu, is by far the most eco-friendly forms of art work because everything used is natural and organic. She imports everything from Japan for her work as the locally available handmade paper might not be able to endure and absorb the pigments well enough.

    “There are many layers in each work and it is a challenge to make these pieces of art, but I love it,” signs off Madhu with a smile.

    (The exhibition is on at the Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli Mumbai till 16 January 2012)

    – News & Image Courtesy: Times of India

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