The contemporary scrolls and paintings of Gurupada and Montu Chitrakar come from the distinct patachitra scroll tradition in the state of West Bengal. The patachitra or patua scrolls may portray stories from the great Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana, and Sufi traditions which are also sung frame by frame. The scrolls by the young painters Gurupada and Montu Chitrakar venture even further into current affairs, history and other subjects outside of the traditional canon.
Their subjects include not only the Ramayana but the Tsunami, the September 11th attacks, the Kashmir earthquake, the Gujarat earthquake and bloody Hindu/Muslim religious riots, and incongruously even the story of the French Revolution. For examples of some recent scrolls by various artists, depicting the December 2004 tsunami, go to our Art from the Tsunami gallery.
These scrolls are painted with vegetable dyes fixed with a vegetable gum on paper. The panels are sewn together and fabric from old saris is glued to the back to strengthen the scroll. Individual paintings by Montu Chitrakar may resemble single panels from these same scroll stories, or independent images of wild animals and scenes from his imagination.
Both Montu and Gurupada Chitrakar are featured in the recent exhibit Village of Painters: Narrative Scrolls from West Bengal at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe and the accompanying catalog by Frank Korom. You may order the book from us below. Montu and his wife Joba were featured in the article :"The Chitrakars of Naya" by Christine Styles, in the Spring, 2014 issue of The Folk Art Messenger.