Facing the threat of extinction, the famous temple art of mural paintings in the Konkan belt of Maharashtra, and in Karnataka and Goa is now being revived by a 60-year-old painter.
Sri Harekrishna Bhagwan Polji, the painter from Maharashtra’s Vengurla town, has been traveling in the three states to restore mural paintings in various temples. On the sidelines of his exhibition ‘Vishnudigambar’ organised at Kala Academy at Panaji, he said
The murals inside the temples are slowly vanishing. The structures are (being) demolished to make way for plush, shining temples. The development is slowly killing the art of mural painting. Every year I paint more than a thousand paintings.The century-old paintings are replaced with modern tiles in the temples. People don’t get to see them, so I have repainted them on canvass. The current generation should know about this unique art form that we inherited for centuries, he said.
Polji’s journey from being an amateur painter painting every spot in the village right from the rock on the coast to walls in the homes is interesting.
The painter who is now giving final touches to a book on his works said ,
When I began at the age of seven, I had no money to buy colours. So I used natural colours. The world was a canvass for me. I painted wherever I saw empty space. This is how I developed my skill.
With hardly any buyers for his paintings, Polji is mostly left with displaying his art in various temples, restoring the age-old heritage. From mythological pictures of Lord Hanuman and the stories in Ramayana and Mahabharata to spiritual paintings profiling Gods, the painter has worked on everything.
It’s not just Hindu Gods or Goddesses, I also paint Christian art, Polji said.