A premium collection of Ravi Varma oleographs

Ahmedabad based Archer Art House is presenting a premium collection of oleographs printed at Ravi Varma press during late nineteenth and early twentieth century. A collection of 100 different oleographs of 36 x 25 cm (14 x 10 inches) approximately mounted on acid-free mount and backboard support, which packed in transparent weatherproof shrink pack.

Raja Ravi Varma was the scion of the Travancore family and was one of the earliest pioneers of the modernist, figurative idiom. Working during the late 19th century, he made scores of paintings and his renditions of Indian Gods and Goddesses became the definitive portraits for millions of Indians.

Raja Ravi Varma's name conjures a vision of an artist who was revolutionary in his contribution to Indian Art. A popular and significant artist of his time, his oleographs of Indian divinities still survive. They represent his inimitable style, paintings of Goddesses Lakshmi & Saraswati, Sita, Shakuntala, Damayanti & Draupadi. Even after a century, he is still one of the most celebrated painters of India.

He also transformed the simplest vignettes from life into masterpieces of breath-taking beauty. He took Indian Art to a new pinnacle, giving to the admiring world, inspirational paintings. He was one of the first to depict Indian subjects in the western style using oil on canvas, and is often described as the 'Father of Contemporary Art in India. Obviously, the artist knew what sold well and often repeated the more successful themes. These subjects are no less popular today. He patronized the royal houses of Travancore, Baroda, Mysore and Udaipur, where his paintings can be seen to this day. Ravi Varma passed away on October 2, 1906.

The themes and techniques of Raja Ravi Varma's work, which have taken on the greatest aesthetic and historical significance, remain his Iconic references to Indian Gods and Goddesses or mythology, and Royal Portraiture. Ravi Varma very confidently fused European and Indian elements. Many of his oleographs were faithful versions of his paintings.

As such, they were far more accomplished than the popular prints of that time. This may be because of his better grasp of the underlying principles of naturalism. The compositions were elaborate and the grammar more sophisticated. Although it was Ravi Varma who created a new naturalist iconography for Hindu gods, in response to public demand, his oleographs occasionally reverted to conventional iconography.

In 1892, Ravi Varma began his own press in Mumbai, where he made color reproductions of his own work and extended his reach. This did, in fact, allow him to become one of the most prolific artists of his time. Raja Ravi Varma's enormous popularity rests among the masterpieces he created on the cheap prints of his mythological paintings. In India, the printing process was first used to popularize the leading artist. This process had begun in the west in the late 18th century when famous paintings were turned into prints to bring them within the reach of ordinary people.

Ravi Varma took up oleographs when the printmakers were struggling to keep their heads above water in combat with photography, with one another and with foreign competition. His oleographs had a naturalist treatment concentrating to evoke inner feelings and emotions rather than literal translations of the superhuman attributes to Hindu gods. His art introduced the whole spectrum of human emotions - grand tragedy, misery, fear, surprise, pathos, remorse, sadness, pain and pleasure.

To prevent plagiarism, the Ravi Varma press started numbering the oleographs. These oleographs have built a history for themselves in the building of contemporary Indian art and printmaking processes. The secret of their appeal is in reminding us how precious our own culture is to us, in restoring to us our inheritance - in keeping our culture alive through art. His oleographs are difficult to come by and are in great demand all over the world. Archer has made available these valuable authentic oleographs of Ravi Verma's works.

Anil Relia, the founder Chairman of the Archer Group is a Fine Arts major in Applied Arts, Photography and Serigraphy. In 1978, he started a Designing Studio in a small room under the name 'Archer'. Today, the administrative headquarter of Archer Group is 10,000 sq. ft., four storied 'Archer House' and the group's manufacturing facilities are at various places. Besides publications, Archer also runs Design studio, Art gallery & real estate business.

These original oleographs have gone through vagaries of time. Archer has made a mammoth effort to collect these. Slightly damaged due to ageing, the art house has taken pains to restore the beauty of each individual oleograph. This collection is packed in an attractive portfolio to make it a real attractive treasure for connoisseurs of art.

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