Pushpa Kumari

Art history/ Historiography

Pushpa Kumari: Upending Tradition

Rothstein, Scott

The Poetics and Politics of Indian Folk and Tribal Art

Issue #005, Summer, 2020                                                                       ISSN: 2581- 9410

  Lines on a page, deliberately rendered, brings to light a world imagined by Pushpa Kumari. Using only a pen and ink on paper, Kumari visualizes a domain energized by religion, heritage, astute observations and a highly intuitive personal sensitivity. A woman in her early fifties, Kumari has devoted her life entirely to drawing. In a country of arranged marriages, Kumari remains single. She values her freedom and independence, focusing all energies on her art. By accepting an unconventional Indian lifestyle, she has been able to develop a unique body of work, different both in concept and form from her peers. Born in Madhubani, Bihar, a part of India known for its painting tradition, Kumari was surrounded by art. The women of this region have for generations embellished the floors and walls of their homes with complex, cultivated images. These works were not just decorative, but used to teach the Hindu myths and epics to the children of the Mithila as well perpetuate the cultural mores of the region. Kumari absorbed the artistic energy of the women closest to her, partially her grandmother, Maha Sundari Devi. Devi was one of the first women to explore the possibilities of applying the wall painting imagery on paper in the early...
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