Patron of all small things

For three decades,Delhi-based Shyama Sharma,68,has been spurring miniature artists from Kishangarh,Udaipur,Kangra,Lucknow and the temple town of Thanjuvar in Tamil Nadu to crank out “original pieces” that are further sold at “affordable” prices to art dealers,interior decorators...

Written by RICHA BHATIA | Published:January 18, 2009 12:44 am

Shyama Sharma helps artists from all over India sell their miniature paintings

For three decades,Delhi-based Shyama Sharma,68,has been spurring miniature artists from Kishangarh,Udaipur,Kangra,Lucknow and the temple town of Thanjuvar in Tamil Nadu to crank out “original pieces” that are further sold at “affordable” prices to art dealers,interior decorators,corporate firms and embassy officials through Tulika,her Delhi based firm set up in 1992.

It is not unusual for Sharma,a painter herself,to receive the artists from small towns at her Mayur Vihar studio for a cup of tea and words of encouragement. “Some of the artists are old and in poor health and find it difficult to do their work,which requires minute detailing. I tell them do only a little,but carry on. I tell them if you do original work,I will buy it,” says Sharma.

However,the camaraderie with the artists wasn’t built overnight. In the ’80s,an enthusiastic Sharma,scoured the country and observed the artists at work in their homes. “I travelled with my husband,who worked in Indian Oil Corporation and visited their homes,sat with them and saw how they work,” remembers Sharma who also met Bikaner-based miniature artist Mahavir Sharma. “Now he has become a legend. When he visited me a few days ago,I told him I wanted to have one of his works and now it’s not possible as he has become so expensive,” says Sharma. During her travels,she also met the late Bannuji Ved Pal Sharma,a well-known miniature artist and goaded him into making a sketch of a graceful Saraswati.

She was fascinated by the artists’ exquisite workmanship and their use of stone made colours extracted from semi-precious stones on handmade paper or silk. “Nowadays,most of the artists use synthetic colours,” she says.

Sharma’s journey has been long. “I first met these artists in Delhi and I was amazed to see their visual form and technique of brushwork. I liked how they packed so much in a small space,spending months hunched over one work,” says Sharma whose personal collection of miniatures now has 60 works.

At present,Sharma has 15 established artists under her banner. “I pay them whatever they ask for. There are no middlemen involved in the process,” says Sharma. So,how does she verify the authenticity of the artists’ work? “We know the artists’ standing and the kind of work they do”.

Next on Sharma’s agenda is to hold an exhibition of all her miniature works.

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