Smita Aloni. She kept the Indian Phad Art alive, since 20 years, and has showcased the beauty of this Art in international platforms.
This 49 year old Artist shared her Art Journey with us.
Smita’s Art Story
Originally from Indore, India – Smita Aloni is an entrepreneurial artist based in Dubai, UAE since few years. She founded Toolika Creations and dedicated her life to Phad Art.
She learned this Art Form by her teacher Shri Kalyan Joshi, 20 years ago. And has made more than 300 paintings till date.
“Even if Phad folk art is an oldest art in Rajasthan, yet many Indians do not know about this Art.” Says Smita.
She has presented the Art in exhibitions in many places including India, Paris, Austria, Dubai and Qatar.
Do you know all about this Traditional Folk Art Painting of India? We bet you don’t.
About Phad Art
Originated more than 700 years ago in the Bhilwara region of Rajasthan. Phad painting is a religious scroll painting.
Phad paintings narrate elaborate religious stories of gods and local deities as Devnarayanji (a reincarnation of Vishnu) and Pabuji (a local hero). Usually, a priest and his wife, called bhopa and bhopi, belonging to the Rabari tribe use these paintings as a part of an elaborate song-and-dance performance.
They travel from village to village to perform and use the phad paintings as visual aides and mobile temples. They perform dramatic actions of stories from the Ramayana, Hanuman Chalisa and other mythological tales. Phad means ‘fold’ in the local dialect as the paintings are unfolded after sunset and the performance is done all night for the villagers.
To make a Phad painting, hand-woven cotton cloth is soaked overnight to thicken the threads. Then stiffened with starch from rice or wheat flour, stretched, dried in the sun and rubbed with a moonstone to smoothen the surface.
Traditionally, Phad Art uses a very limited Colour Palette. The eyes are added in the last and the important part.
This legacy passed down over generations within a single-family. Unbelievable!!!
The traditional artists of this folk art-form are from the Joshi Family of Bhilwara. Later, Chitrashala was established by the family to pass on the legacy by teaching the art within and outside the family.
As this Art is like visual story telling, Smita now gives a personal variation or let’s say an Artist’s touch to the creation. When anyone asks for a painting, she even customizes the art for them, according to their story.
It takes 2 months to complete a Phad of 1 metre. That needs a lot of Patience, Precision and Hardwork.
“Traditional Paintings get more appreciation as a heritage, but struggle to find buyers and survive with the modernization in the art world. ” she says.
So as time changes, Smita not only makes the art on cloth but she also paints on wood, cushions, etc. Even makes amazing, most demanded collage work and monochromatic designs too.
Sharing her memorable proud moment Smita said, ” On an exhibition visit in Paris, a French critic appreciated my work and said this art work is no less than a French artist. He announced my name and I represented India there. That was a proud moment for me. Later they also featured me in a French magazine.”
Smita is coming back to India with a goal to make such handicraft popular and create a platform where women, men and students should know any Indian artform. Handicrafts are always amazing, but artists find difficulty is finding buyers. So she is on her way to bring the change.
That’s really an inspiring journey.
Find Smita’s Phad Art at www.smitaaloni.com
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