Conglomeration of Portrait Paintings drawn by Mrs. Bageshri Parikh,-
Row One-Rabindranath Tagore, Mona Lisa, Ramakrishna Paramhauns
Row Two-Mother Teressa, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi,Indira Gandhi, Pandit Jasraj,
Row Three-Sushma Sawaraj, Atal Biharai Bajpeyi, Sunil Gavaskar, Abdul K. Azad, Amitabh Bachan
Introduction:-Above displayed Images are not Photographs but Portrait Paintings drawn in Rangoli! Rangoli & Kolams, an Art Forms which originated in Indian Subcontinent approximately IN 200 BC. It means creative expression of Art drawn on floors through use of colors. It preceded two important Forms of Human Expressions, Sculptures and Paintings. Rangoli or Rangavali was devised to greet and welcome Gods and visitors on sacred occasions! The Rangolis were studded with Indian, Egyptian and other symbols.
The Art form weaves together designs and patterns aesthetically created, arranged by usage of paints, rice, flowers, grains, tinsel, salt chalk, white ash, sawdust etc. The entire purpose of drawing Rangolis is to keep the viewers pleased and traditions alive. For thousands of years Rangoli artistically drew God’s and Human Figures, Birds, Nature, Landscapes and variety of other Forms.
My interest in Rangoli Portrait painting was awakened by Legends. There are legends of Lord Brahma, which offered Solution to the mooring Priest to bring to life his dead son by drawing his Portrait Painting on the Floor to breathe life into him. He did it and awakened the boy residing in the painting. Rangoli Portrait Painting became the Art of breathing life into the Human Figures ! In fact Rangoli Portrait paintings soon became popular form for ‘Women’s Self Portraits’ as well.
Introduction of Mrs. Bageshri Parikh –Ex Judge of Mumbai family Court- I came across, Mrs. Bageshri Parikh’s portrait Rangoli Paintings of numerous popular and historically well known Figures / Individuals using acrylic and ‘Lake Colors”. I had an opportunity to have brief online Interview her out of Aesthetical curiosity to understand her endeavor. She does Rangoli Portrait ‘One each/ every Year’. The Seventy Five years old Stalwart Mrs. Bageshri, former JUDGE, has illustrious history in Art exploration from her childhood. She says “Painting is ‘Inborn in me. I learnt first lessons from my Aunt at age of Eight”. In terms of her growth as an Artist she seems to have integrated three- four different streams from her social interactions in her emotional and intellectual life.
Her journey from Nature Painting to Portrait Painting is colorful. As participant in Rangoli Exhibition In Balmohan School, Mumbai, she was introduced to Rangoli Painter, an artist from Kolhapur from whom she learnt about lake colors. for 3 months She used to go to Ambika Dhurandhar who was a well known artist. “She taught me, how to draw human figure. Bhaktiben. artist from Pondicherry, taught me mostly nature drawings. She taught me to charcoal, oil and acrylic colours for painting”. After her visit to Art galleries in Paris, London and Amsterdam her curiosity took a distinct turn towards expressionism and Psychology!
Second stream is rooted in her educational career. She elaborates it as, “After graduation from Parle college, I joined Tata Institute of Social Sciences and completed my Masters in social work. There after I worked as a social worker at ‘Bap nu ghar’, that is an institution for women in social distress. Then I worked as a faculty assistant in Tata Institute of Social Sciences”.
Her career in Classical Music singing spans for Twelve years before she became the Judge and has learnt to articulate the rhythm and swaras of the Music springing from the depth of her psyche and heart into the Rangoli Portrait paintings on the Floor canvas to enliven the Portrait with its musical gaiety.
Her stint as working for “Women in distress” provided her more insights into the “inner psychic and mental life of Individuals” and need to provide expressions to them in Rangoli Portrait painting”. What supplemented her exploration of Art and Psychology was her professional life. She says, “I had taken up a marriage counseling project in City Civil Court. “This project was run by Tata Institute and Ratan Tata Trust . After 4 years of marriage counseling in City Court I was transferred to Family Court which was started in 1989,as the principal marriage Counselor. I was a pioneer of marriage counseling in judiciary” . During this period I also completed my LLB from Government Law College and “I was appointed a Judge of Family Court, Bandra Mumbai. It was in the year 1995”.
Rangoli, Mandala & Psychoanalysis
Rangoli as an Art, well known as Mandala, in Western world has evolved over a thousands of years. Used on festive occasion . It’s emergence from scriptures and any mythology to Modern Form. It was Carl Jung, who broke away from Sigmund Freud in 1912 in his latter life worked on Mandala and during 1926 to 1945 prompted his patients to create Mandalas as Psychotherapy. For Jung, the Mandala (Sanskrit word for Circle and centre of Consciousness) was a symbol of wholeness, completeness, and perfection. It Symbolized the self. Drawing Mandala was used to ‘de stress’ the psyche and for connecting to deeper sources of energies. This geometric figure in mythology represents the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism.
Mystical Treatment of Mandala’s by Carl Jung has remained unattended and unchallenged so far. Fortunately Rangoli Portrait paintings have prospered in last few decades which counter the Mysticism. It opens up this Traditional Art to divergent and Non Religious interpretations. Its an Art of breathing and stimulating and life and desire into Human Figures. It competes with Portrait paintings as an Art, in every way and in fact being difficult one as well.
- RANGOLI PORTRAIT OF MONA LISA, THE MOST ADORED PAINTING IN HUMAN HISTORY.
It is apparent that Mrs. Bageshri was inspired to draw Rangoli Portrait Painting after her visit to Art galleries in Paris, London and Amsterdam. The Rangoli shows Mrs Bageshri sitting besides the floored Painting with folded legs after completing it. She says, “MY first portrait rangoli was of Monalisa. Since then I developed a technique of drawing portraits in Rangoli, my first portrait Rangoli was in 1978”. The drawing demands “ you have to put Rangoli powder from about 3 inches above”.
The Rangoli Portrait focuses on Mona Lisa’s Eyes, her mysterious, partial smile and gaze at the spectator and the viewer. The Rangoli portrait skillfully replicates the ambiguous expression of the woman with reserved posture while she sits markedly upright with her arms folded across the chest and right arm with open fingers firmly resting on the left hand .
She has attempted to reveal the secrets of the smile, the suppressed passions and emotions. She says, she is focused on “the required concentration to draw an exact expression of the subject figure”. We know that it was Sigmund Freud’s investigation and discovery of Leonardo’s infantile instinctual drives and renounced passions and emotions are redirected onto Mona Lisa’s facial Expressions
While discussing about her Rangoli painting Portrait Ms. Bageshri Parekh s says that Mona Lisa’s painting is mystical, and says, “She has no eyebrows. She has very captivating smile. There is some doubt whether she is a lady or a man”. The technique used is called as Sfumato , which was masterful technique devised by Leonardo Davinchi to create imperceptible transition of color shades and light in the painting by using transperancy in colors without drawing borders. It’s a very welcome and appropriate comment. The important point to highlight here is what Sigmund Freud concludes about Mona Lisa “that . . . Leonardo has denied the unhappiness of his erotic life and has triumphed over it in his art., by representing the wishes of the boy, infatuated with his mother, as fulfilled in this blissful union of the male and female natures.” It is surprising that without any formal background on Psychoanalysis , she has represented Mona Lisa’s mystical features, eyes and smile as complex expression, representing of Female and male features. The underlying psychical processes and repression have been shown in sublimated form! She has drawn the flowing uncurled hair resting on the mid of shoulders. It is on the background of a landscape with receding icy mountains and the evaporating colors. The distant bridge and the gentle flow of water have been aptly depicted by Rangoli Artist. Artist success in injecting life into portrait was appreciated by the viewers across..
2. Rangoli Portrait Painting of Ramakrisna Paramhans.
Mrs. Bageshri Parikh states that she selects the Individual or Person for Rangoli Portrait for “whom she has respect and Affinity”. Her selection and Rangoli Portrait of Ramkrisna Paramhans stand out significantly. The central argument of his Character is associated with theme of “equal truth of all religions’ and the ‘equal respect for all religions’. This argument is contested and controversial, but our interest springs from Artist’s expressed ability to identify his ‘Psychic State’.
Ramakrishna Paramhans’s Portrait, Rolland and Rangoli Portrait Painting by Bageshri Parikh
Artist Bageshri recollects that her father adored and admired Ramakrishna Paramhans and she used to read his literature. Bengali Legend that Ramakrishna was ‘Kalimata’s (Goddess Kali) child and experienced religious ecstasies in his Childhood. From childhood he is said to have been influenced by several religious traditions. He is said to have grown bear in style of Prophet and had vision of Radiant Christ and Ramakrishna by practicing ‘Bhakti’ and understanding ‘inner self’ developed the doctrine that Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. All these travel towards the same God though the ways could be different. The pose in Rangoli Portrait is Ramakrishna experiencing the feeling of Ecstasy that is Union with God. Bageshri Parikh terms her aim of the Rangoli Painting was to Portray, “Glow of enlightenment on Shri Ramkrishna Paramhans” whch she has done it to express the experience of ‘Ecstasy.
Based on experiences of Ramakrishna Paramhanas’s achievement of mystical – mental- psychical states, Romain Rolland argued with Sigmund Freud as criticism of his small Book, The Future of an Illusion (1927), to equate it with as an “‘oceanic’ sentiment’.Romain Rolland’s identification of his own, “religious emotion” as resembling “oceanic sense “on in Freud’s words, sensation of ‘eternity’, a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded — as it were, ‘oceanic” as illusion (Civilization & its Discontent).
Number of Psychoanalysts have confronted this Mysticism. Indian psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar saw in Ramakrishna’s visions, “a spontaneous capacity for creative experiencing while others have identified the mysticism as explosion and evaporated expression of totally suppressed instinctual life.. Artist has drawn bright Artist draws the bright light in the foreground to express the ‘oceanic’ feeling.. .
3. Rangoli Portrait Painting of Rabindranath Tagore
Faithful representation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Rangoli Painting in Black & White needs skills of a Psychologist. Bageshri Parikh says that she has attempted to articulate “poetic and expressive eyes of Rabindranath Tagore” in the Rangoli Portrait. His facial expressions and eyes, eyebrows, Nose and all features including hair style incarnates his Poetry. It must be noted that this Nobel Literati (1913), with Lyrical Poetic creation of ‘GEETANJALI’ and his Novels like Ghare Baire (The Home And The World) was Artist’s icon!
The Tagore –Freud relationship unfolds over from 1926 till tagore’s Death. Rabindranath got to know Freud’s Psychoanlalitical works from younger days but met Freud in Vienna on 25th October 1926. Rabindranath, once the strong critique of Sigmund Freud in course of latter life began appreciating Freudian Analysis of sources of creativity and Oedipal Complex. Psychoanalyst Mr. Nand Gopal Sengupta writes about Rabindranath tagore (1939), “I saw him reading and marking the works of Freud, Adler and Jung! He was also keen to write something on psychoanalytical theory—which he could not manage to do in the end”. He elaborately explained in this letter to Chakravarty dated 22 October 1939, why repressed material from the author’s unconscious could be used in literature if it served a special artistic purpose. He describes the process of creativity in language similar to Sigmund Freud, the springs flushing out from the ‘unconscious” into realms of Consciousness, “In this muddy deluge, sprinkling muddy water towards the sky, let the verse of the new poets dance effortlessly like an unclothed child”. Santanu Biswas, the Author (2008) has also identified a number of literary works, both prose and verse, from the final years of Tagore’s life and tried to document the extent of influence of Freudian thought on their composition.
It was too late for Rabindranath Tagore to attempt to explore the relation between, “Self” and the Literature he created or others have created. His Self Portraits, Poems and cartons he created only indicate his struggle to march towards ‘Self Analysis’, his exercise which Freud had completed in 1898!
Shantanu Biswas further quotes,”This is the last of Tagore’s retrospective descriptions of some of his major earlier works as ‘analytical’ or ‘psychoanalytical’. On 13 November, Tagore wrote poem 9 for the collection Rogshajjaye [On the sick-bed], in which he wished to see repressed material freed from the unconscious and thus rendered complete and proper; and, significantly, the mystery of nature revealed to man in the process”:
“The cripple cries from the depths of sleep:
The craving for self-expression flames secretly
From the molten iron womb, in tongues of fire Your fingers, unconscious”
Weave the illusion of an indistinct art; From the primordial womb of the ocean.
Huge masses of dreams Deformed, incomplete Rise suddenly in swelling motion.
They wait in the dark To receive from time’s right hand”
Rabindranath Tagore finally discovered the sources of his Poetic Creations and journey towards ‘self Analysis’. The facial expressions and the dreaming penetrative gazing eyes of the Rangoli Portrait Painting drawn reveals the secrets of upsurge of his creativity.
4. Rangoli Portrait Painting of Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak
In court Room in the wake of Struggle against British Imperialism Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s firm reiteration of his Slogan, to uphold ‘Self Rule’ and his fearless cogent statement against British Imperialist Rule, “Self Rule is my Birthright and I will have it”. The slogan for Political Independence!
Mrs Bageshri Parikh say, She has portrayed, ” Look of determination of Balgangathar Tilak”. In order to articulate she has selected the most distinctive features or characteristics, facial marks running across thru forehead, across the Nose, cheeks and Mustache, lines, shape, color, texture. It represents certain rhythmic self control, and assertive look, firm focus on his Goals of ‘Self Rule—.
It has high aesthetic value, since in spite of being Rangoli Painting it scores more value than Portrait drawn by creative Painters.
This Rangoli Painting by Bageshri Parikh reminded me of most articulate Paintings by renowned German Portrait Painter Kathie Kollwitz who used dark shadows and skin folds to highlight fearless mood at specific historical moment.
I have picked up few of Bageshri parikh’s illustrious Rangoli Paintings to have a brief tour of her journey from a childhood, who drew Rangolis, Mandala, Landscapes and to finally emerge as a renowned Rangoli Portrait painter and who tirelessly carried forward her search. Her personality flourished and she turned herself from Rangoli landscape painter from School days to a matured Rangoli Portrait Painting Artist.
5. Tribute to Pandit Jasaraj through Rangoli Portrait Painting
Her Rangoli Portratit painting journey which began with Mona Lisa and her latest Rangoli Portrait Painting (17 x 25 Inches) of Musical Maestro, the Hindustani classical Vocalist Pandit Jasraj, of Mewati Gharana, is stupendous! His awesome musical career spanning for 75 years ended with his sorrowful demise on 21st August 2020. She paid tribute to him by drawing Diwali Rangoli Portrait painting this year. She says, “I learnt Indian classical music for nearly 12 years” and Bageshri Parikh could spread her own heartfelt musical notes, styles and Ragas, surging upwards from her own’ Unconscious’, extravagantly and lavishly on his face, in the lines, shades , mounds and his eyes and his facial expressions! Her Twelve years musical Penance is distinctly visible on all his lively expressions. It appears that Pandit Jasraj is ‘Reborn’ with her Rangoli masterstrokes.
I began with the Myth and Legend of Brahma who blessed the Brahmin with advise to draw Rangoli Portrait painting of his Dead Son and on following the advise Brahma could pump life into the Dead Son’s body and he woke up with New Life.
The Rangoli Portrait Paintings of Mrs. Bageshri Parikh possess the same attributes to bring New life into these personalities. Psychoanalytical techniques teach us how to interpret the Portraits. It is the capacity of the Artist which make the Sketches to come alive by making them to breathe New Life. Here I can say that she has joined the company of Great Portrait painter.
Anil Pundlik Gokhale is an Engineer by profession. As a non regular writer on political literature I have always been attempting to integrate Psychology and Marxism. I have recently published books ‘Condensation And Condescension In Dreams And History: Essay – From Sigmund Freud To E P Thompson’ by Author House London. Psychoanalysis & A- Historical Story of GENGHIS KHAN, Author House- London.