In June 16-21, 2016 the International Roerich Memorial Trust, Naggar (IRMT) held the exhibition of paintings by a native of Benares Vijay Murtikar. The exhibition was opened by another artist, Mrs. Reena Chaudhary who also exhibited her works in the IRMT several days earlier.
Vijay Murtikar’s “Vision of Kashi” in Naggar
Vijay Murtikar was born in India’s “eternal city” of Benares into a family of stone carvers. Thus, since his very childhood he has been steeped in traditional art and the artistic atmosphere of that holy city. He went on to study art professionally in Kashi Vidyapeeth in the same city. Already during his student years he developed preference for watercolours which made him abandon acrylic and oil.
His watercolours of Benares displayed in the IRMT are mostly painted on the spot. Staying on one of the ghats of Benares he uses only the holy Ganga water for his painting. He keeps exploring his native city whose every corner is worth painting and considers it “a never ending art process, a journey that can never be completed.”
In the exhibition called Kashi Darshan (Vision of Kashi) he displayed mainly three kinds of works. Firstly, his multiple pictures of Ganesha, one of the most famous deities of India, the Lord of Obstacles and the opener of paths. Secondly, his watercolour landscapes of his native city, Benares, with its characteristic and unforgettable ghats and boats, temples and palaces. Thirdly, his miniature stone carvings: figures of the Buddha and tiny elephants.
Murtikar likes depicting Ganesha. He presents him in the most unexpected situations and postures: practicing yoga on the ghats of Benares, playing drums, flying kites... He exhibited several pictures of Ganesha made with the impression of his thumb – one of the 30 techniques of paintings he invented. At the opening of the exhibition he demonstrated how to paint Ganesha in 30 seconds. Blindfolded...
The IRMT visitors were visibly excited to see Benares brought to the Himalayas and highly appreciated Vijay Murtikar’s exhibition.
Murtikar does a lot to popularize art in his native city. For two decades he has been teaching painting to children including the homeless and orphans. Talent spotting is an exciting process and he enjoys discovering the seed of art in the hearts of his students which, he says, nobody can create, and another artist can only as much as nourish.