The artists from left- Basant
Bhargav, Vandita Srivastava, Bharti Singh and Pradeep Ahriwar
stand along with the paintings exhibited at Bharat Bhavan.
The rocks of Bhimbetka could almost be heard as some 23 artists
from across the country tried to bring the early man's life and
times depicted on them alive on canvas and in stone here.
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka are in Madhya Pradesh's Raisen
district, some 45 km south of Bhopal. The site was discovered by
V.S. Wakankar in 1957. Since then, more than 700 such shelters
have been found in the Vindhya mountain ranges.
The rock shelters and caves have a number of rock paintings which
give the Stone Age man's life and times a perspective. Some are
from an even earlier period - 7,000 B.C and beyond - but there is
no unanimity among archaeologists about their exact period.
Some studies identify Bhimbetka as the world's oldest stone walls
Titled "Punah: Bhimbetka" (Revisiting Bhimbetka), a total of 23
artists from across India got together to put up an exhibition of
paintings and sculptures on the Unesco World Heritage site, held
at the Bharat Bhavan art centre here June 22-27. The exhibition
was dedicated to V.S. Wakankar.
"It was in December last year when we planned to visit Bhimbetka
and do something on them. We had held a two-day camp there. As you
enter Bhimbetka caves, you almost enter the ancient period and
start thinking like those cave men," Vandita Srivastava, a folk
and tribal artist who coordinated the show, told IANS.
The artists came from all age groups, from 23-year-old Bharti
Singh, to veteran artist Dinanath Bhargav, 85.
"The place is not only historic but different as well. It shows
the intellectual maturity of the people who lived there that
time," says Shahenshah, whose three paintings are being displayed
at the exhibition.
Sculptor Gourav Kulshrestra created his work from waste materials.
Artist Basant Bhargav said the caves are so intellectually
enrinching, every artist must visit them at least once.
"Earlier, even though it's a world heritage site, most people used
to think of Bhimbetka as a picnic spot. But now, as we try to
depict it on canvas, they are realising the cultural significance
of the place. This was the main objective of our exhibition,"
Bharti Singh said, adding that she was satisfied from the response
the event received.
"If Unesco did a wonderful thing by declaring Bhimbetka a world
heritage site, we should also thank these artists who made people
realise the beauty and importance of the site," Shiv Sharma, an
art lover, told IANS after watching the exhibition.
Vandita has now started thinking ahead.
"There are several kinds of paintings, but we found that the works
in Bhimbetka have their own form. I will study more and research
on them and popularise the form," she added.
Akhtar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)