Imaginary City - Indigo and pastels


Udaipur, Rajasthan, circa 1970-1990

From the studio of Vejendra and Krishnadasa

Cloth painted with mineral and vegetable pigments



This painting on cloth is in the tradition of pictorial textiles- pichhvais which were made as backdrops for use in the shrines of temples dedicated to Krishna. They were changed daily, seasonally according to rituals and festivals. Some pichhvais representing a particular haveli or temple were also made and taken back by pilgrims as a souvenir of their visit. Some pichhvais were also made for devotees who could not make the trip. It is also very much reminiscent of Indian fresco painting. On both of these types of paintings various buildings are represented in much the same style as here.


This painting however, does not depict any particular palace or building but is greatly inspired by the stone architecture in Udaipur where the studios functioned from 1950’s to the early 2000. The studios specialized in restoration of paintings and also produced paintings for rich collectors and institutions.


The white stone palaces and buildings with strong lines, balconies and terraces contrasting with the delicate circular domes and lobed arches are represented in a typical Indian perspective showing all sides of the building, reminiscent of the old historic city of Udaipur.


The trees here are typical of the luscious landscape and the multiple gardens with tones ranging from dark green to silver grey. The three blocks of colour seem to create large avenues for the eye to travel.


The fabric part to be painted was firstly treated with flour combined with water and smoothed with a gemstone. The mineral and vegetable pigments were ground in stone mortars and mixed with natural glues collected in cups made of shells. The colour blue was taken from the indigofera plant, vermillion red form mercuric sulphate, black from carbon, ultramarine, yellow and some other colours from limestone rocks. It took 14 days for two painters to produce one painting.


It’s an imaginary city and truly magical in my view because the colours strikingly contrast with the white architecture and engages the eye and the mind.


Shown for the first time in the UK in 2012 at Joost van den Bergh gallery. This type of painting was also exhibited in Italy in 2001.


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