Pupul Jayakar had an undying passion for preserving the country's culture and weaving tradition. She was a writer and an advocate of crafts in Indian society. The textile scholar aimed to restore India's cottage weaving industry. Her interest in rural arts and crafts, her eye for potential, and her unparalleled execution skills initiated a change in many areas of craft. Jayakar singlehandedly led the revival of arts and handicrafts in India. Hence, she established The Weavers' Service Centre formerly known as the Handloom Design Centre in the 1950s.
At first sight, this encaustic painting – rendered in heated beeswax, into which pigments of various colours have been mixed – seems to be worlds away from what most viewers know of Bhupen Khakhar’s work. There are no limp-limbed yet curiously wide-awake men from a broad middle class; no domestic interiors laid out for erotic encounter; no playful or picaresque encounters among figures whose ordinariness is belied by some eccentric bodily feature or undecipherable gesture. No figures at all, in fact.
An observer and painter of life, a chartered accountant occasionally picked up his paintbrush to reflect the uncanny, the fantastical, the mixed droll, and dramatic impulses quintessential to everyday life. Bhupen Khakhar (b.1934) unabashedly revealed the melancholia, mundanities, and inner monologues of the marginal man. Khakhar was born in Bombay, but the quaint town of Baroda nurtured the artist in him. An office accountant in the city of dreams, money was not the only thing Bhupen wished to draw.
Years ago, artists from various walks of life gravitated towards a creative anomaly near Mumbai's Opera House. The Weavers' Service Centre was established in the 1950s by Pupul Jayakar. Masters such as Prabhakar Barwe, Anand Mohan Naik, Gautam Waghela, Ramesh Vaghela, and Gopal Adivrekar designed textiles at the center for years to support themselves while exploring their identities as artists.
K.G. Subramanyan’s artistic oeuvre reflects the synthesized modernism in post-independence India, that was devised to accommodate the varied Indian artistic aesthetics and history as a continuation of cultural pursuits.