Mortal Man, Immortal Endeavours

-Dr. M.K. Sharma ‘Sumahendra’ (1943-2012)-

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Great artists are like an incense stick. While physically alive, they relentlessly burn their vital breath in pursuit of enriching their world with their work and when they are gone, posterity still basks in the fragrance of their immaculate creations for ages. If you are a true votary of art, it is highly improbable that the name of M.K. Sharma ‘Sumahendra’ remained unheard of. Born on 2th Nov-1942, in a small village, Nayan-Amarsar, near Jaipur, Dr. M.K. Sharma – fondly known in art circles as “Sumahendra” was destined to be an artist of unparalleled dexterity for both – the traditional art forms like painting, sculpture, mural & fresco creation, as well as modern skills like graphic designing and photography.

Belonging to the rarest of classes, Sumahendra has raised the level of fine arts to a pinnacle with his work and has commanded a stature that not only draws all-round appreciation, but also exudes inspiration for young artists across India. He hailed from Jaipur but belongs to the entire nation. A Gold medallist from University of Rajasthan in Painting & Sculpture, Sumahendra won many awards, laurels and accolades throughout his professional life. He wore many hats – those of a painter, a sculpture, a muralist, a graphic designer and a professional photographer. His expertise and proficiency lured many internationally famed journals like Bilende Kunst, Berlin, Animan and Arts of Asia, Hong Kong for his contribution as an author to many invaluable articles in these publications. Sumahendra also authored six exquisite books including those on Indian Miniature Painting Techniques and Ragamala Paintings of Rajasthan. Many documentaries and talk shows have been enriched by Sumahendra’s active involvement for documentation and recording of the painting traditions of Rajasthan.

painting-sumahendra2The eyes and mind of Sumahendra never saw limits in art forms. He employed a wide assortment of mediums in order to create master pieces. He played with chisels and dabbers to create sculptures in stone, metals, ceramics and woods. He juggled with paints and brushes and turned blank canvases into vibrant sceneries. He was far from being stagnant and repetitive in any particular medium. His miniature paintings portray his uncanny realism depicted through an impeccable blend of detailing and shading.

The style, Sumahendra developed in his creations focused on the cohesion of various KALAMS. His later works reflect an exalted element of imaginative realism that made use of sensual female figures and familiar feminine paraphernalia. Parrots sitting on a damsel’s hand; the flowers in her hair; kohl rimmed eyes and her alluring contours, are some of the striking features, his art richly illustrated.

Sumahendra had been an integral part of numerous national and international art shows where he exquisitely his work. International exhibitions like the Asia Modern Art Exhibitions, Japan and La Salle de Pation, Switzerland showcased the finesse of his expertise. His work lucidly reflected the true spirit of traditional Indian miniatures and deft sculpting of idols. A widely travelled artist, Sumahendra frequently visited Switzerland, England, Austria, Rome and other European countries, where his presentations touched the deepest chords of international art admirers, critics and connoisseurs. His first international exposure was in 1980 at Club 44, La Chaux – de- Fonds, Switzerland.

sumahendra-painting1n 1972, he won the prestigious Lalit Kala Academy award at New Delhi and many more followed suit. The City Palace of Jaipur conferred him the Maharaja Sawai Jagat Singh Award in 2003.

Legendary artists are people loving. They work for betterment of lives. Sumahendra had philanthropic associations with many art foundations and organizations. He was himself the founder Chairman of Kalavritt (the art circle), a creative forum for budding artists. He had been a member to numerous committees related to art and craft. His relentless efforts were instrumental in establishment of much awaited Rajasthan School of Arts Alumni Association that has been furthering the mission he lived for – promotion of art and culture, nation and worldwide.

“No creation could have a real worth, if it does not bear creativity and wisdom. And this calls for an assiduous training, not only for the eyes and hands of an aspirant but also for his heart and soul,” Sumahendra always maintained. “Buying and owning a painting kit does not make one a true artist,” he opined.

Dr. M.K. Sharma ‘Sumahendra’ retired as Principal of Rajasthan School of Arts but his retirement did not stop him from dreaming, visualizing and conceptualizing about new art vistas. He held high spirits and never missed an opportunity to contribute in the field of fine arts. His thirst for creative pursuits always remained insatiable.

Sumahendra’s remarkable works:

Monumental Sculptures: – Ravindra Nath Tagore – 10’ high, Cast-Stone, Ravindra Manch, Jaipur. Nyaya Devi – 10’ high, Cast-Stone, Session Court Jaipur. Swami Vivakanand – 6’ high, Cast-Stone, Nayan (Amarsar) Jaipur. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru – 6’ high, Cast-Stone, Amarsar, Jaipur. Durgadas Rathore – 6’ high. Bust, Bikaner, 1990. Ravindra Nath Tagore – 6’ high, Plaster of Paris, Doordarshan Kendra, Jaipur, 1991.

Commissioned Works: – Copied frescos of Mozamabad, Deogarh, Kota, Bundi, Udaipur, Amber, Bhaopura (Rajasthan) Datia and Orchha (M.P.) for Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. Painted panel No. 45, Emperor Akbar with his Navratnas for Parliament House, New Delhi.

Restoration of old miniature paintings, murals and dilapidated frescos. Works in Marble, Terracotta, Cast Stone and Metal for sculptures.

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