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Sharing traditions, merging patterns

Good old kolams, melded with pyssanka, the batik-like tradition of Europe, make for interesting art at an ongoing exhibition in the city



Both kolams and pyssanka draw from geometric designs.

IN THE hustle-bustle of modern-day milieu, it is not uncommon that age-old customs, conventions, and traditions disappear regularly. Some rituals and practices, however, stand the test of time and remain intact, often in a watered down version.

In South India, for instance, the practice of washing the front yard of the house and adorning it with rangoli is not only an accepted routine during festivals and celebrations, but is a daily chore in most households. Essentially a feminine activity, the designs and patterns are often skilfully varied to suit the occasion. It is this ordinary ritual of drawing geometric patterns and designs that has brought two artists from different parts of the globe to work in partnership and come up with a collaborative exhibition, titled From Kolam to Pyssanka, which is currently on at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.

Monoranjan Muniandi, one understands, is a student of Alliance Francaise de Bangalore. He is an IT professional, dancer, and wannabe Carnatic musician. Familiar with the ephemeral art of kolam that women draw outside their houses, Muniandi has translated some of those designs onto cloth. Marie Rousseau, who has studied calligraphy in Tours (France) and the art form from Ukraine called pyssanka in Moscow, has reproduced the technique of batik (pyssanka) on Easter eggs, by using the traditional art of kolam.

The term pyssanka means to write on an Easter egg, in Poland and Ukraine. It is a real bird's egg on which symbolic signs are written in different shapes and colours using a small tool called kistka. The technique used in pyssanka is said to be similar to that of using wax in batik. The designs represented in this art form are created not by chance but are, in fact, the result of a long tradition. The sign-symbols are categorised in terms of their abstract geometric shapes, or incorporation of plant and animal profiles.

The exhibition has several panels featuring photographs showing traditional homes in Bangalore decorated by kolams. As can be expected, some of the designs are quite simple and others, more complex and colourful. Manoranjan's kolam designs on cloth are similarly featured. A couple of panels illustrating the making of pyssanka make for more interesting viewing, since the viewer is taken through a novel technique and art form.

The prime attraction of the exhibition is undoubtedly the colourful pyssanka pieces rendered by Marie Rousseau. Incorporating captivating designs and multicoloured motifs, the tastefully decorated and displayed Easter eggs amaze the viewer by their lively and vibrant presence.

The exhibition concludes on April 30.

ATHREYA

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