Anupa Mehta Arts & Advisory

Nathdwara: Photography as Propaganda

Works from various private collections

The collection encompasses works from a small quasi state that existed within the boundaries of another kingdom – Mewar. The rise of the fortunes of this ‘sectarian state’ owes a lot to the way in which its Tilkayats handled their position within the socio – political climate of the last quarter of the 19th century and early 20th century.

Apart from being an important temple town, it became the seat of innovation in terms of artistic production and a haven for displaced artisans around western India. These artisans employed techniques of photo documentation to capture their patrons and at the same time drew inspiration from western prints, woodcuts, postcards and textile labels. Their visits to Bombay and to the Proscenium Theater also inspired them innovate and create a new language that could be understood as modernity.

Under the label of ‘The Popular’ this genre of art has been long neglected and left un- researched. The endeavor has been to research this hitherto long ignored genre of artistic expression and present a sensibility that came to fruition against the backdrop of a fairly recent technology, in the 19th century.

It is also a testimony of how the tools of the colonial state, used for documenting a people, were used to create an art form that bears out the resilience and adaptability of the artist communities that existed in Nathdwara.

The collection includes:
• Manoraths (collaged documents of certain ritual darshans),
• Painted portrait photographs of Tilkayats and donor – patrons,
• Painted portraits that were inspired by hyper- realism (photographs)
• Carte de Visites of Tilkayats and Goswami’s.
• Cabinet photos of both devotees and Goswami’s
• Collages using both photographs and paintings recording the secular activities of the devotees.

The collection charts visual memory as the protagonists would like themselves to be remembered thereby creating an idealistic documentation of their lives and activities, to be handed down to posterity.

New Mahalaxmi Silk Mills, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel
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