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The Hindustan Times
HT City-- Saturday, 19 April 2003

Japanese Rock Art Finds A Rajasthani Expression.

FOR YEARS Madhu Jain was content with experimenting in oils and acrylics. Till she went to Japan in 1994 and learnt about the eco-friendly medium of Nihonga, a traditional style of painting that involves the use of rock mineral pigments, derived from natural minerals, shells, corals and even semi-precious stones like garnet and pearl, on handmade paper. There are nearly 1500 rock powdeers used in Japan," says Jain, whose exhibition of paintings, ~Pathar Ke Rangon Se, is on at the Habiart gallery, IHC till April 25, " and is among the most popular mediums among the Japanese contemporary artists." Reveals Jain, this technique went from India to Japan, via China in the 6th Century.
Once Jain set her heart on Nihonga, she learnt the Japanese language, because that led to a greater interaction with other artists and teachers, who taught her some techniques that were never even mentioned in the books on the subject. After three-and- a half years of rigorous training, once Jain returned, she set out to make her own Nihonga paintings. " Nihonga is an obsession for me, because the variety of colors reminds me of nature in its myriad hues", says Jain.

But Jain's imagery remains quintessentially Indian, and that too from Rajasthan. "Since I belong to Rajasthan," says Jain, "forts, camels, village belles in their colorful dresses are some recurring images in my paintings. There are so many colors in the Nihonga palette that they are perfect to depict the kaleidoscope that is Rajasthan. This is a real cross cultural exposition. "

In recognition of her extraordinary work, in September 2002, to commemorate 50 years of Indo-Japanese relations, the Japan Foundation organised a solo exhibition of her paintings in Tokyo. Jain also creates artificial bonsai arrangements out of silk, beads, berries, and wire. "they have an everlasting about them," says Jain. Like the rocks that are powdered for the Nihonga paintings.


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