22:42 GMT +307 December 2019
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    Artwork on Sari

    Hugely Inspiring But Worth the Test: Awarded Designer Recreates Raja Ravi Varma’s Artwork on Sari

    © Photo : Gaurang Shah
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Textile revivalist Gaurang Shah, one of the recipients of the National Film Award 2019 for Best Costume Design for his work on the Telugu film “Mahanati” has recreated 30 paintings from one of the greatest Indian artists Raja Ravi Varma on saris.

    Known as the Master of Weaves, Gaurang strives to create exquisitely handcrafted masterpieces. His designs are adorned by veteran actresses including Sharmila Tagore and Shabana Azmi and current ones like Taapsee Pannu.

    Sharing the idea of interpreting India’s celebrated artist Raja Ravi Varma painting through weaves, Gaurang told Sputnik: “It was an idea that was hugely inspiring but was worth the test as we were weaving 30 paintings of Raja Ravi Varma which people have never seen in Khadi Sari Pallu.”

    “Our fundamental approach was to choose those paintings that people have not seen or lesser-known. So we shortlisted 54 oleographs out of which we wove 33 saris with paintings of Raja Ravi Varma in the pallu(free end of sari), all inter-woven in Khadi, in natural dyes. The paintings were chosen in three categories: Women in Raja Ravi Varma Paintings, Gods and Goddesses, and Stories.”

    The awarded designer said that the project took over six months of research.

    “We had to begin to create 600 shades of colours because Raja Ravi Varma used only natural colours for his paintings in combinations of four primary colours, so we had to do everything with natural dyes to replicate the paintings in Khadi and recreate the same colours on the portraits and dyed over 200 Kgs of yarn.”

    Artwork on Sari
    © Photo : Gaurang Shah
    Artwork on Sari

    “Our choice of using the Srikakulam Jamdani technique made it possible to create the entire pattern without repetitions. While few of the saris took seven months, the intricate paintings took more than 14 months to create,” said Gaurang who has expanded his international footprint by opening a stores in London and New York in addition to his six stores in India.

    He currently collaborates with over 800 weavers across India.

    For him, the challenges were unique. “The first thing we observed was that Ravi Varma’s paintings are made of curved brush strokes and it was a Herculean task to train our weavers to reconstruct his masterpieces.”

    “The next big thing we had to tackle was to find the right pool of weavers to work on the saris. We were fortunate to identify and engage 20 families,” he said.

    Talking about how much he credits Bollywood for promoting Indian weaves, he said, “Movies and movie stars have a huge impact in setting fashion trends. Fashion trendsetters like Sonam Kapoor, Kirron Kher and Vidya Balan have certainly helped handlooms fashion wardrobe revival.”

    Gaurang said to cite an example, the sari Kirron Kher wore in ‘India Got Talent’ is among the most sought after in our stores. “Likewise, saris worn by Vidya Balan have left a lasting impressions amongst women who love handlooms and saree innovations.”

    • Artwork on Sari
      Artwork on Sari
      © Photo : Gaurang Shah
    • Artwork on Sari
      Artwork on Sari
      © Photo : Gaurang Shah
    • Artwork on Sari
      Artwork on Sari
      © Photo : Gaurang Shah
    • Artwork on Sari
      Artwork on Sari
      © Photo : Gaurang Shah
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    © Photo : Gaurang Shah
    Artwork on Sari

    “Sonam Kapoor deserves a special mention for advocating handloom outfits. She has brought attention to handloom garments in a big way and continues to be the admirer of our work,” he added.

    So what more needs to be done to bring a change in terms of the acceptance of sustainable fashion in India.

    Gaurang said, “I believe handlooms are sustainable, and Indian Jamdani creations are timeless and continue to have inventive appeal even today. That’s why you will find a sari passed on to generations."

    “Indian Jamdani Weaving holds tremendous potential as art. It has given birth to innumerable timeless and inventive, fabrics and fashion pieces. In recent times, designers and weavers have expanded its legacy to a wider audience, highlighting its versatility, and inventive potential.”

    “Since, beginning the essence of Jamdani has seen heart-warming transformation - following three metaphorical threads that overlay its sensuous surface: the art, the artisan and the patron.”

    He said that trends in 2019 will see a change in technique, the subtlest changes in yarn or number of threads, elusive hints of a new colour, and diverse patterns and textures.

    “You will find fresh appeal in Dhakai, Kota, Paithan, Kanchi, Banarasi, and a new hybrid genre that allows for complex patterns and designs never attempted on the Jamdani loom,” he said.

     Designer Gaurang Shah
    © Photo : Gaurang Shah
    Designer Gaurang Shah

    The saris, Gaurang creates, are woven in the Jamdani weaving technique which take up to two years to weave depending on the design. Various textures are created infusing yarns like Khadi, Muga Silk, Tussar Silk, Organza, and Silk. Jamdani, a discontinuous extra weft technique of weaving takes no help from machinery.

    Talking about his future projects, he said, “My dream project Khadi, a canvas recreating Raja Ravi Varma’s iconic paintings into the khadi jamdani sari."

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