Author Artist Mumbiram
Artist Mumbiram has lived the life of a romantic classical painter. His becoming has been an aesthetic search, that was not along the trodden path laid out by art institutions. It has been a winding path of self-discovery where his passionate aesthetic integrity and his intense love for people and rasa were the only guiding lights.
“The personal realm is infinitely richer than the impersonal realm. Stripped of our ethnicities we are all beautiful belly-buttons.” (Mumbiram)
Artist Mumbiram grew up in India in an atmosphere inundated with Art and Sanskrit scholarship. His love for Mathematics brought him to America. A fateful introduction to the “Incredible Emotional Ways of Love and Friendship in the Beloved Land of Vraja” (vraja anuraga riiti) brought about a transformation in the gifted artist who now had a doctor of philosophy degree from Berkeley.
Artist Mumbiram has purposely stayed away from the art market to follow his own aesthetic search that brought him to the hills of Dhahanu where he lived with the tribals, into Sanskrit Libraries in Washington DC, where he studied Bhagavad Gita throughout the nights, to Japan where he painted the beauty of cultural confluences, to his legendary studio in Pune that had a steady stream of handsome visitors of the indigenous castes and tribes of India on the one hand and art-enthusiasts from all corners of the world on the other hand. They were fascinated by the artist and his way of life. Mumbiram’s art goes beyond the caste-barriers of India.
“It is simply exhilarating to make live portraits of some of the most amazing neglected beauties of folk India. It takes a lot of purity and integrity of the heart to be able to establish a rapport with them and inspire them to participate in this most ennobling endeavour. It is like discovering a star. Sometimes a whole constellation. It was all there all the time but was not noticed nor celebrated like the proverbial peacock dancing in the forest.”
It has been a journey with the unabashed ambition of making the Indian folk people aware of their own unique exotic beauty. Working with very austere circumstances and without any institutional support he has made exceptionally beautiful pictures of India‘s scheduled castes and tribes. Even more he depended on them for his daily bread as well as emotional sustenance.
Beyond any doubt Artist Mumbiram is one of the most literary of contemporary painters. His perspective has the miraculous combination of a profound understanding of the timeless Indian Classics and a passion for innovation and originality in a painter’s life and craft. It has created Rasa Renaissance in contemporary art of painting.
Mumbiram is equally adept with words having produced writings about art that reveal deep insights into the creative process of a Rasa Artist and the aesthetic perceptions of society.
“Ideals of human beauty get caught in stereotypes. That is the most oppressive thing that there is. Much of my art is about bringing into the purview of art human types that have stayed outside of it. In India dark has been looked down upon even though the most glorious ancient ideals of humanity such as Krishna, Arjuna, Draupadi, Vyasa, all were dark. This very self-destructive trait of Indian aesthetic needs to be dealt without any delay. It has done great damage to the Indian self-esteem. If my own art contributes even an iota towards evolving a more healthy approach to human aesthetic I will feel greatly fulfilled.”
This artist’s paintings are not in the sway of meaningless distortion and irrelevance in the name of modernity and abstraction. He has evolved his own painterly idiom, first coined as “Personalism”. In his prolific repertoire of artworks he has always focussed on personalities. Even more he is one of the rare artists with real life muses, who are people of all walks of life and backgrounds. A versatile artist that he is, his media range from ink & brush, acrylic, watercolour, oil, as well as screen prints. Especially his charcoals made on hand-made cotton-rag paper have the quality of timeless classics and have reached far corners of the world without any promotional effort. They show the dark folk beauties of India in self-assured intimate emotional moods in familiar universal situations. These are interspersed with a few of the artist’s other muses who happened to be African, Japanese, Greek, French or Turkish.
“…..depiction of mental or physical torture is of no use to either the artist or the viewer unless there is a hint of a way to transcend it……Modern art is predominantly conceptual. This is its power as well as limitation. It’s like a joke. The first time you say it, it can sound great but on repetition it progressively loses impact. Likewise, the artist who first exhibited blank canvasses in a gallery made a strong point and deserved credit; but anyone who tries to repeat the “trick” can only deceive his viewers through elaborately presented jargon.”