Sohrai Mural Painting making waves in Switzerland


Bulu Imam, Jharkhand State News , Jharkhand , Ranchi , India , The Museum Rietberg in Zurich,run by the Municipality in Switzerland,has the world’s biggest collection of African,Chinese and South Asian antiquities.

Oflate,two women artists of the Tribal Women Artists Cooperative,a wing of Sanskriti Centre-INTACH, Hazaribagh),Philomina Tirkey Imam and Putli Ganju were invited by this prestigious museum to paint two large Sohrai murals (12 feet by 6 feet) on canvas using traditional earth colors with binders.The artists were accompanied by Gustav Imam.The project included workshops with children from local schools,and also with adults,to demonstrate the art on paper.

Nine workshops were successfuly held between 24 and 30 August.The completed large murals on canvas were formally presented to an appreciative public on 30 August in a program called Long Night of the Museums.

The introduction of Sohrai art in Switzerland is not new. Over ten years ago the artists of TWAC had presented this beautiful art in the forum of the United Nations,Geneva,in several exhibitions between 2000 and 2004.

Museum RietbergOver two dozen Sohrai art exhibitions and mural painting events have been organized by TWAC in leading museums and art galleries in different countries of Europe and UK, including: Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (Sweden),Pigorini State Ethnographic Museum (Rome),Girasole Gallery (Udine, northeastern Italy), Heinrich Boell Foundation Gallery (Berlin), State Ethnographic Museum, Dresden (centralGermany), Volkerkunde Museum of Folk Art, Heidelberg (south Germany), Arts Atlantic Festival (La Rochelle, France),and the very well known Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London twice.

These have been some of the prestigious venues of exhibitions of this art in Europe, but similar exhibitions have been held in Canada,USA,Australia.Several exhibitions have of course been held in major art galleries in India including Chemould Gallery,Cymroza Gallery, and Museum of Modern Art,in Mumbai.

Sohrai Workshop at Museum RietbergThe Museum Rietberg is making a special display of Sohrai painting in its premises.Notably,this is the first permanent home of this art in Europe.It may be remembered that a permanent museum for Mithila painting was set up five decades back in Japan by Upendra Maharathi of Patna.

This is history in the making. I am delighted to see the simple art of our Jharkhand villages finding such appreciation in the art capitals of the world. In November last year (2011) the TWAC artists Philomina Imam and our daughter Juliet Imam painted four stunning Sohrai murals on canvas at the Arts Atlantic Festival at the city of La Rochelle in northwestern France.

They were again accompanied by my son Gustav. The mural painting event was organized by ENCAN with the support of the City of La Rochelle, and the artists were selected “Guests of Honor” from among the hundred and twenty participants from America and Europe. Thus it is a great happiness to see this state art of Jharkhand becoming a cultural flagship in the wide ocean of world art.

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