Traditional Artists, Modern Gallery: Traditional Odisha artists want their dues worth for their artwork, which takes months to create.
Our Do Righter Pankaj's hand was doing much better, and he resumed his journey at a village called Raghurajpur in Puri, Odisha.
A heritage arts & crafts village where every villager is an artist, and every home is an artist's studio. Every home has an exquisite artwork on the outer wall, created by the family members.
Jagannath Mohapatra, a famous painter, became famous for his beautiful Odisha paintings. And as the demand for his work increased, he taught his craft to almost everyone in the village.
Today, Jagannath is no more - but his legacy has been passed down the generations through Gurukul - the free-for-all art institution that he set up in his house. Here, at least 10 students learn the art for about 2 years and go on to become the next league of fine Odisha artists.
Here, every family member is at a different learning stage. Young kids learn to pick up pencils and brushes as they are growing up, and train at the Gurukul when they are ready to take on more tedious art forms.
Various forms of traditional Odisha art are practiced here: pattachitra, tal chitra, silk painting, stone carving, coconut painting, betel nut painting, paper mache & masks, bottle painting, pots, lamps, wooden sculptures, cowdung toys and ganjappa playing cards.
The motifs for these artworks are based on mythology, religion, folklore and erotica. A single artwork takes 5 to 15 days and sometimes even months. The price per masterpiece ranges from Rs 500 to 2 lakhs, depending on the intricacy involved and the size of the paintings.
Artists hunch over their paintings for days, and face severe health issues. But they do it for the love of art. There are a few dull moments in their otherwise colourful lives, where middlemen come in and pick up their paintings for nominal prices and sell them at much higher rates, pocketing hefty profits.
For paintings that could sell for Rs. 30,000, the artists get just Rs. 5000 to Rs 8000 for it. Most of these artists live a hand-to-mouth existence, and their artworks need to be sold off as soon as they are ready, in order for them to survive.
To complete their Half Story, and make the traditional Odisha art of Raghurajpur village accessible across the world, we wanted to create a website for Raghurajpur village costing Rs. 45,000. The artists' work would be showcased here, they could provide their contact details and connect with buyers directly, through this website.
The donations poured in, and soon, the internet connected these artists to the world - through a website www.raghurajpurart.com. It took some time to profile the artists & their work on this platform, and create galleries for them.
Here's a look at the artist profile page, which talks about the art he specializes in, mentions his contact number and showcases his art pieces.
The artists were very happy that now, they could get in touch with customers directly for business.
A lot of well wishers pledged their services to this cause, wanting to market & promote the website - at absolutely no cost. We left this place with huge smiles on our faces, knowing that we made a difference to an entire village.