In the paintings presented in this volume, Raghupati Bhat expertly fuses the traditional with the contemporary and offers a new interpretation of the great Indian classics: the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata Purana. These series are exquisitely composed with touches of calligraphy. Raghupati carries us to other times and plunges us in the bittersweet stories of Lord Rama and Sita Devi, the tragic and heroic pastimes of the Pandavas, and the exploits of the various avatars (incarnations) of Lord Krishna. The drawings and paintings, metaphysical in their ethos, bring alive the pantheons and narratives described in classical and folk literature. Evocative of timelessness, Raghupati’s art is adorned with a meditative streak.
Raghupathi Bhat, born in 1957 at Udupi, grew up in the precincts of the temple city where his
father was a priest. Given the financial constraints faced by the family, he was sent for schooling to
Nagamangla, a village near the forest, where his sister lived. But he did not enjoy studies. With his
passion for art, he joined the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath to study art and then the institute at
Kottayam to master techniques of mural painting with natural colours. His artscape is inundated
with mythological narratives and icons inspired by the temple sculptures that dot southern India.
Chanting mantras, he makes his own colours with natural materials and draws and paints myths
and stories based on his readings and discussions with various scholars, though has also painted
on some non-religious themes. Credited with the revival of Mysore Ganjifa paintings, of which
he has a large collection, he has earned the title of Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhat. His work has
been exhibited in shows across India and has also been featured internationally in exhibitions at
London, Hague, Tokyo, Osaka, Ottawa, Tunisia and Belgium.