A Look Back: Miniature Brown Femmes

In the beginning of 2017 I’d been toying with the idea of doing a series of contemporary South Asian women, but nothing was really coming together in my head.

It was then that my mother returned from her trip to Rajasthan, and told me about the Miniature artist she met in Jodhpur- Vijay Prajapat, who is also a professor at the Umaid Heritage Art School, which offers free painting classes; and showed me some of his beautiful work. Something clicked then, and I decided to do a modern interpretation of Rajasthani miniatures.

There are several schools of traditional Miniature painting, and each has their own distinct style. These include the Rajput, Kangra, Pahari and Mughal styles, among others. The subjects of these paintings are usually scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, scenes from the life of Krishna; particularly depictions of Radha and Krishna, and with the emergence of the Mughal style, scenes from the royal courts, battlefields, portraits, etc.

I however, planned on painting modern brown women as my subjects. The subjects I picked are mostly all young women who I follow on social media, and are bloggers, models and fashion enthusiasts, who being rooted to their culture, incorporate aspects of it into their work and style; easing the dichotomy between ancient Indian art and the modern, westernised South Asian femme.

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@ashish @neelamkg


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@gagan.k.bassi and her sisters for @bridgeandbardot 
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@sharanguru and @abieshaguru
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Funnily enough, when I was about three fourths of the way through, I visited the Prince of Wales Museum on a college outing. We spent the longest time in the Miniature section and the next thing I knew, we were given an assignment to study and replicate a traditional miniature style with a modern subject of our choice. I chose to paint the Pas de Deaux from the ballet Le Corsaire because it fit in with the theme of Kangra Paintings, which I had picked, and ballet is something I adore and am so nostalgic about.

The sentiment of love is the inspiration and central theme of Kangra and Pahari painting, with the love story of Radha and Krishna being the main source of spiritual experience and a popular theme of these paintings.

The Sat Sai depictions of the legendary lovers were set against an architectural background with walls, balconies and windows. The style is naturalistic, and great attention is paid to detail.


That was the end of my long-winded affair with miniatures. I may do another round of miniatures in the future, possibly digitally, along the lines of this one of an Indian amazon I did in collaboration with @heleenatattoos.

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