When Odisha’s Pattachitra Travelled To France And Denmark

Puri: Odisha’s Pattachitra, which is in the news for reaching The Vatican as a gift to the Pope from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has travelled abroad before too.

Given as a gift by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘Tree of Life’ occupies pride of place both in France and in Denmark.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted Pattachitra painter Bhaskar Mahapatra’s ‘Tree of Life’ to French President Francois Hollande during his visit to the country in April 2015. A statement from PMO at that time said: “A man from Raghurajpur, a heritage village in Puri district of Odisha known for its Pattachitra (palm leaf) paintings, Mahapatra’s work reflects the traditional societal respect for nature in India. The tree, as a divine gift central to human life, is a recurring element in Indian artistic practice, a PMO statement said. The ‘Tree of Life’ has multiple roots and branches like a banyan tree. It is symbolic of a tree’s benevolence, fruit, seeds, shelter, healing, procreation and regeneration faculties that sustain life and clean the environment.”

Since France was playing host to the Conference of Parties on UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December that year, the Prime Minister chose a painting that emphasises the need for conserving the environment for the posterity with the tree as a motif. The PMO hosted a picture of Mahapatra’s painting on silk and paid tribute to the artiste’s works.



“The painting has been done by an Odisha artist Bhaskar Mahapatra who has been practising the art form for the last 30 years, along with the rest of his family, and works from his home in the heritage crafts village of Raghurajpur.”

Mahapatra, who has been honoured by Lalit Kala Akademi, is inspired by his training and expertise in palm leaf painting and Pattachitra,” the statement said.

Then in October 2021, the PM gifted the Pattachitra painting depicting ‘Ram Durbar’ to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on her visit to India. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Denmark in May this year, the Danish Prime Minister offered him a tour of her house, where she showed him Odisha’s traditional Pattachitra painting that PM Modi gifted her on her last visit to India.

Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Minister of Education shared images of PM Modi and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who showcased the painting. Three images were shared by the Union Minister, in the first and second images PM Frederiksen is showing the painting to PM Modi and the third image gives the details about the paintings. He stated, “India’s soft power and Odisha’s treasure in the form of Pattachitra painting adorns the Denmark PM Frederiksen’s residence. She gave a tour of her residence to Honorable PM Narendra Modi ji and showed the painting gifted by PM Modi during her last India visit. Proud moment!”

Now, Pattachitra is all set to adorn the walls at the Vatican. ‘Tree of Life’ made by noted artist Apindra Swain was presented by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the Pope in Rome on Wednesday.

Hailing from the village of Raghurajpur, the village of Pattachitra artists in India, Apindra Swain’s family has been painting for generations. He is trying to find a new path for this traditional art form and works on modern artefacts and experiments with changing the art form like incorporating calligraphy within Pattachitra art.

Swain, 40, told The Telegraph, “Thanks to Naveen Patnaikji for giving the Pattachitra of Raghurajpur a global platform. My work has been acknowledged.” Swain sold this Pattachitra to a government official at Rs 12,000 in January this year.

About his work, Swain said: “It took me nearly 20 days to complete it. I have used acrylic with traditional colours to ensure that the colour does not fade easily. The painting depicts theTo do a painting, an artist sometimes takes even a month. There is a lot of pain and a lot of hard work in creating a piece of art. My wife Jhumi and two sons also helped me.”

He said has was thankful to his late Mother Saiba Swain for making him learn traditional painting art. “Though I have studied only up to Class VII, the knowledge that I have acquired over the years is now paying dividends. It gives me a sustainable livelihood. I always try to find a new path for this traditional art form and work on modern artefacts like kettles, and bottles and experiment with the changing the art form like incorporating calligraphy within Pattachitra,” he told The Telegraph.

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