Champa Sharath reimagines the monkey god in a whimsical way

Contemporary life and different verses from the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ inspire the Bangalore-based artist’s woodcut prints

Hanuman Chalisa is a piece of sacred literature composed by poet and philosopher Tulsidas (1511-1623) and narrates the story of Hanuman. Champa Sharath had visualised 20 verses from this as a series of prints a decade ago and began working on them. The current series of large woodcut prints is a continuation of the series. They narrate stories of Hanuman burning Lanka, crossing the ocean or bringing the Gandhamaadhana mountain to heal Lakshmana with medicinal Sanjivini herbs. Though these stories have been narrated visually in different ways in miniatures, manuscripts, Amar Chitra Katha comics and calendar art, Champa blends many of these formats and comes up with an eclectic idiom. Along with that, she has also tried to locate the deity in several contemporary situations like Hanuman riding a Royal Enfield in full gear, in tune with his muscular personality or becoming an accessory for a selfie, where she playfully re-imagines the accepted visualisations of Hanuman without being irreverent.

What sets her apart is the formal approach and detailing. The process of woodcut brings a distinctive character to the treatment of imagery. Her large, multi-colour woodcuts are finely executed and the scale of the prints, some of them as large as seven feet by five feet, adds to this.

Champa completed a degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts, Mysore and masters from Fine Arts Faculty, MSU, Baroda. She has shown her prints in many shows in India and the USA. She lives and works in Bangalore. Her solo show Divine Phantoms is on at Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore, till 23 June 2018.

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