Traditional manuscript illustration has been a treasured art form for many centuries. From Duc de Berry’s sumptuously illustrated Belles Heures, and the glorious scenes from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh to these delicate and etherial 18th century gouache leafs from the Gita Govinda series depicting Lord Krishna in a passionate embrace with his beloved Radha.
Suneet Kapoor, Director of Kapoor Galleries in New York talks about a leaf from the Gita Govinda series. This 18-th century illustration is created using traditional Indian painting techniques, involving several artisans to create a single masterpiece. Watch the interview to learn about the symbolism in Indian mythology depicted in the leaf and the process through which this and similar works of the same period were created.
Suneet Kapoor: This is our Indian-Himalayan art gallery based on Madison Avenue in New York City. What I’d like to speak to you about is one of the images shown here, which is a leaf from a Gita Govinda series. Govind, in Sanskrit means the Dark Lord, and you will see Krishna – the blue-skinned figure here in an erotic embrace with Radha – who is considered to be the ideal lover. This is also symbolic of one’s soul. The soul is identified here as the female figure, so all of mankind’s souls are shown as the female wanting to be one with God. So, there is lot of symbolism beyond the erotic and passionate embrace you see here. Something I’d also like to point out, typical of the leaves from the Gita Govinda, is that there is always the Yamuna River throughout all the scenes, which is also a symbol of birth, growth and where life begins.
To give you a little more background about the painting itself, the master artist would have come in and done the sketch, and the secondary artist come in and filled in the light color. Then the master artist would refine that, if necessary, to see if the line needs to be honed and tightened up, and then the tertiary artist would come in and fill in the color and the background fields.
This article and interview © galleryIntell. Images Courtesy of Kapoor Galleries