About Mithila Painting

Mithila Painting:
    A Brief History

The Traveling Exhibition

Booking Information

The Ethnic Arts Foundation

The Mithila Art Institute


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"Over the past several decades, the artists of the Mithila communities have produced an astonishingly brilliant body of works on paper, drawing on their centuries old iconographic traditions and techniques as well as evolving new imagery and approaches that reflect global transformations. I have rarely encountered such a highly concentrated number of exceptionally gifted artists. They are a treasure!"

Lawrence Rinder
Director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

"In my experience, an exhibition that stirs the senses and the mind while sparking discussion on social/political issues is the ideal. CAFAM's presentation of Mithila paintings, "Ancient Gods and Modern Politics", generated much interest in the artform, the artists and their rarely heard views on life, love, and politics. While rooted in ancient mythology, contemporary Mithila paintings mirror the themes seen in today's vibrant Urban Art scene. I expect the artform to continue to develop and flourish."

Maryna Hrushetska
Former Director of CAFAM

"In 40 paintings on paper this exhibit updates an ancient wall painting tradition ranging from the early deities and marriage images to contemporary narratives and social and feminist themes. The painters include both recognized women masters and new younger artists, of varied castes, some male. The paintings are striking and several show dazzling expressive power. The exhibit demonstrates the pluralist complexity of a lively South Asian tradition that flirts with aspects of Western art, but treats them on its own terms."

Joanna Williams, Professor of Art History, University of California, Berkeley

"Mithila's contemporary arts offer astonishingly vital -- and long overlooked -- depth and diversity, ranging from wondrous elaborations of traditional themes & styles to more experimental depictions of new, topical subject matter. How can one generalize about a genre that includes: Baua Devi's lush interpretations of the Krishna stories; Pinki Kumari's de- and re-construction of the classic ritual kohbar motif; Priyansha's extraordinary homage to a Botticelli Nativity; Rani Jha's powerful and disturbing depiction of the abortion clinic; Shalinee Kumari's iconic visions of capitalism and global warming; and the vigorous, rhythmic and nigh-abstract imagery of master artists from Mithila's traditionally-oppressed Dusadh community -- like Sarup Lal Paswan, Urmila Devi and Chano Devi, to name but a few? Such diverse artists draw from a variety of distinct venacular styles in uniquely individual ways. The Ethnic Arts Foundation deserves high praise for advancing support and recognition of this rich and fresh outburst of rural expression -- which presents a real challenge to prevalent urban-bound notions of contemporary art."

John H. Bowles, author of Painted Songs & Stories: The Hybrid
Flowerings of Contemporary Pardhan Gond Art