Sunday, June 28, 2015

Embracing the Ephemeral

Yakshagana Performance  watercolor sketch by Meera Rao

 "Embracing the Ephemeral" is the title of the this series of sketches on Moleskine Japanese Album sketchbook 5 x 8 1/4" I started end of last summer while I was still in India with my m-i-l.  I stopped working on it when my mother passed away and only recently picked it up again, determined to complete the last few panels, text and lettering. I wanted it finished before my trip to India again this summer :)  

Musician with Chande Watercolor sketch by Meera Rao

The first few sketches are from when I went to watch the classic art form of Yakshagana at the Jaganmohan Palace Art Center at Mysore.  The last sketches in my earlier smaller Moleskine Japanese album were of this palace as I was waiting for the show to start. Click on these links to check them out:  A Palace for Art  and  Time is Life

Musician with Maddale  Watercolor sketch by Meera Rao

Yakshagana, literally Song of the Celestial Beings is an expressive art form: poetry, dance, drama, music and storytelling with elaborate costumes. Accompanying musicians are called "Himmela" - there are  usually atleast two artists playing the drums Chande and Maddale - very crucial to set the mood and a Bhagavatar, a singer narrator with cymbals in his hands.  Together they enact stories from the epics and mythologies, dispense morals and spiritual teachings too.  Always the good is victorious over the evil. 

Jumping and Whirling watercolor sketch  Meera Rao

The elaborate costumes and face paints 'Vesha' clearly indicate who the actors are playing.  Even though now the performances are indoors, and last only a few hours, until a few years ago they were all night outdoor affairs with climax happening around 4 or 5 am in the morning ! I remember attending only a couple of them when I was a school girl, dozing off most of the night and woken with a start when the drums beat with vigor! The jumping and twirling by the actors are spectacular. My brother and I would try to emulate them for the next few days! Check out this link for a taste of the art from a 2-hr performance in Washington DC by a visiting troupe.  Traditionally all parts were performed by male artists only but now there are all female troupes too! More information on Yakshagana can be found here. 

Rajavesha watercolor sketch by Meera Rao

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