Priyasri Patodia was 16 when she bought her first artwork for her home in Baroda. She went on to study art and began taking inspiration from Jyoti Bhatt, a veteran artist and printmaker back home. As she delved deeper into the history of printmaking in India, she came to understand its value. Now, after years of research, Patodia brings together original works of over 100 artistes in a one-of-a kind show titled,
Contemporary Print Making In India
“Although there have been small-scale shows over the years, the last large-scale show was held in 1999,” says Patodia, who owns the Priyasri Art Gallery, in Worli. “We’re doing this for the revival of the medium of printmaking. Europe was more aware because the middle class population was interested in buying art. It came to India late in the 1940s. The earliest printmaking activity started in Mumbai in the 17th century. Raja Ravi Varma started his own oleograph press and oleographs started going to every home in India,” she informs.
Patodia has fascinating stories to tell. She reminds us how western artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso dabbled with printmaking too. “Art was expensive, so this was the best way to reach out to people. The progressive artists in India in the ’60s also were documenting history. A press was started where they would do serigraphy and lithography to make art accessible to the common people.”
Printmaking was happening everywhere. “Artist Madhavrao Dhurandhar and the father of the Indian Cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke, worked at Varma’s studio. Chittaprasad Bhattacharya from Kolkata, who was a part of the freedom movement, was making posters in this medium. The importance of the ad and newspaper industry doubled because of printmaking. A new department came into existence in the JJ School of Art only after the ’40s, because of artist YK Shukla who went to China and got interested in the medium,” she recounts.
Patodia asserts that printmaking is the only medium which is the future. “Even photography is a part of printmaking. The more developed the technology is, the better the printmaking is.”