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Potters of Desert

Potters of Desert
Item Code: OU59
Oil Painting on Canvas
Artist: Anup Gomay
48 inch X 36 inch
Unparalleled in beauty the artist has portrayed a family of potters, three of them in total, one, working on his wheel transforming clay into a pot, and the other two, the youthful maidens, each endowed with pots-like moulded breasts : the proud owners of golden pots – truly the members of the potters’ family. A delightful equation : the man’s creation striving at standing equal to God’s, though only poorly, the artist has conceived his family of potters but with two classes of them. The pots-like breasts of the young potter women adorned with beautifully worked breast-wears – the magic of weaver’s hands and the lustre of translucent silver, dually define the artist’s idea of the potters’ family – the theme of his painting. The breasts partially bursting out of their wears and the entire breast region bathing in gold’s lustre afford to the entire painting unearthly charm, sensuous but as much divine. The painting is realistic yet highly suggestive, portrays two young women in the prime of their youth, elegantly moulded figures with well-defined anatomy appropriately indexing their beauty.

The painting, a magnificent piece by some contemporary painter, represents a family of potters consisting of three members, one of them, perhaps the elderly man’s younger brother, being away, maybe, for marketing of goods – the pots. The man on the extreme left, obviously the family’s head, seated opposite his wheel in his backyard, his work-place, hence, perspective-wise his figure, a bit smaller, is holding with his left hand clay for moulding a pot, and with the right – not visibly painted, is moving his wheel. He is seated with his legs folded, the right, raised upwards and folded down from knee-height, and left, laid along the ground. Close to him lay the earthen bares – a pot and a large deep tray symbolic of the lot of pottery moulded earlier. In characteristic Rajasthani style he is putting on a full-sleeve tight fitted short kurta and a dhoti, besides a turban in style traditionally allowed to his class. In Rajasthan the modes of putting on a turban are fixed according to a person’s social status, caste and its related profession – a farm labourer’s turban-style being different from a farmer or farm owner; and such norms are strictly adhered to. 

For greater focus on the beauty of the face the artist has pushed the hands’ work, and the person engaged in it, into the backyard – an insignificant part of the painting. In the centre and towards to right are painted two young and exceptionally beautiful women, one on the right being younger to the other, perhaps the central figure’s sister-in-law. Seated straight the central figure – tall and well-built, is obviously the wife of the man on the wheel. Respecting the Rajasthani social norms the artist has painted the elderly woman in the centre, and the younger, behind her, the central figure screening her from the eye of the family’s elder – the male. Both women have been portrayed with faces turning angular towards the chin, large brownish dreamy eyes, cute small lips, sharp moderately sized noses, wide foreheads and tall necks. They are alike tall with well-built figures, are fair-skinned glistening like gold and endowed with balanced anatomy – slim figures with tall arms and taller fingers, some of them with rings on them. They are identically costumed in typical Rajasthani character – a heavily worked choli – breasts-wear, odhani – upper wear, and lehenga – lower wear, though while the odhani, and in some degrees the lehenga, of the elder one is bluish in tint, those of the younger one are in mauve. The cholis of both are almost identical and the elder one has on her neck a silver-lace in addition. 

With a camel – the ship of desert and the sole mode of journeying and transport, in the background, and a lantern on the extreme right, besides the style of costumes of the two women and the male, suggest that the painting is a sincere and brilliant expression of the life in desert region of Rajasthan. Besides the beauty of the two young damsels being the focal point of the painting, and the work of hand for livelihood, merely incidental, the artist has taken special care not to let the viewing eye ever divert from it. In creating a background for his figures he not only kept away all forms or motifs except what could be essential for defining the ambience of the place but even blurred it with indefinable patches of colours rendered with wide strokes of brush. The artist has followed – at least in drawing his figures, the same idiom of the art of painting as followed the artists of modern art school pioneered by artists like Raja Ravi Varma and others around the later half of the nineteenth century and in subsequent years. The artist of this piece has added to such idiom, at least in conceiving the background, abstractionism of contemporary art-style.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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