Monday, February 8, 1999
ART & REVIEW - Abstraction
of ideas, minimally scaled
Aruna Bhowmick reviews the work of Madhu Jain now showing in the Capital.
Born in 1947, Madhu Jain, originally a Home Science graduate from the Lady Irwin College,
was initiated into art at the Sarada Ukil School of arts, both in Delhi. While in Japan as
the wife of a senior diplomat since 1994, she took a course in Sumi-e (ink painting) at
the Baptist Church School in Tokyo. The fascination for Nihonga or Japanese painting began
with her study at the NKH Bunka Centre Aoyama, Tokyo.
What was unleashed thence was an unbridled fancy for this medium, fuelled also by the
belief that no one in India was using rock pigments under this precise genre. And there is
little doubt that Madhu has gained substantial knowledge about the medium and its methods.
'Nipon' (Japan) and 'ga' (paintings) would imply that Madhu employs the traditional
Japanese idiom. She, on the contrary, has been experimenting with the medium purely on her
own terms. With paintings as close to Indian folk as to pure realism, her current show is
an amalgam of paintings inspired by the Pushkar Mela, colourful recreations of rural
Rajasthan and land and skyscapes.
Contrary to Far Eastern traditions, Jain does not betray formal or stylistic learnings.
The loosely strung figures on handmade paper are a riot of colour. Her oranges, yellow,
greens and blues achieve a jewel-like clarity, firstly because of the artist's handling,
and also because a large number of them perhaps are actually crushed jewels.
Madhu takes these pigments of colour very seriously, as also her own dexterity at handling
them. Believing that layer upon layer of colour application adds a kind of volume and
depth to the images, she labours over many of her paintings deploying this process.
Completely satisfied with her efforts at art and her prowess with the Japanese language,
of which she is now at the Advance Leve, Madhu seems to have found her vocation and
purpose at this point of time in her life. She shows at the Rabindra Bhawan Galleries from