‘Quila’ – a limited edition artwork by Kohler in collaboration with Padma Shri Jai Prakash Lakhiwal

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‘Quila’ – a limited edition artwork by Kohler in collaboration with Padma Shri Jai Prakash Lakhiwal

Posted May 18, 2022

The diversity of arts and crafts, traditions and folklore of India testify to the rich cultural heritage of the country. Emerging from different corners of the country, they employ various methods and techniques, harnessing the skills and expertise of artisans to create unique and distinct pieces. By the very fact of being artisanal creations, they assume an inestimable appeal and an inimitable quality. And today, these age-old crafts find expression in contemporary contexts, articulated in such a way as to preserve their authenticity while allowing them to evolve. In doing so, artists and artisans, who are fundamental to keeping these traditional art forms alive and making them relevant for today’s times, are also brought to the fore.

One such artist is Jai Prakash Lakhiwal, an acclaimed miniaturist who has played an important role in preserving and spreading the rich heritage of miniature art. He was inspired by his father who had taken up painting as a hobby while working full time. Having picked up a brush at the age of six, Jai Prakash began painting at an early age and gradually cultivated his talent, learning the intricacies of Ustad Feroz whose ancestors were Mughal court painters. After failing to gain admission to the Delhi College of Art, he devoted several years to learning, understanding and mastering the unique styles of several schools (gharanas) of miniature painting, his favorites being Kota, Kangra and the British era (Company Style ) in India.

Today, he is the recipient of several awards, including the Delhi State Award (1996), the National Award (1998) and the Padma Shri (2016). His skillful creations adorn the walls of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the office of the First Gentleman, Hyderabad House, the Supreme Court and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, to name a few, one of his most famous works. notable being the 20,000 square foot painting in the Anandpur Sahib Museum. of Sikh history. Jai Prakash also paints by hand for a high-end Japanese kimono brand. And most recently, the self-taught artist collaborated with Kohler for the India Artist Edition – a company born out of a vision to create a product that celebrates India’s cultural heritage.

The limited edition ‘Quila’ sink features an intricate painting that Jai Prakash created exclusively for Kohler. Here, art blends seamlessly with utility, creating a functional object that effortlessly doubles as a work of art. “India has probably the greatest tradition of arts and crafts, so we thought it was time to really invest now to pay homage to Indian traditions. The Quila is a beautiful product, one of a kind , and certainly very different from what people expect to see in a bathroom,” said Salil Sadanandan, president, Kohler, South Asia, Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

From the start, Kohler immersed himself in an extensive process, which included conducting a 10-day workshop with leading Indian folk artists. A detailed briefing was given to each artist, resulting in this collaboration with the artist Padma Shri and the choice to go for the traditional art of miniature paintings. The team initially drew on India’s diverse heritage of painting, textiles, architecture and embroidery styles to develop the concept, which was ultimately realized by Jai Prakash through its evocative illustration of the glorious past of the Rajputs. He himself was inspired by the miniature styles of the Kota (Rajasthan) and Kangra (Pahari) regions and his painting depicts the magnificent Rajput forts through playful activities of royalty, and visible through the tamed and untamed landscapes , birds and animals enjoying the spring season. . The unfolding visual narrative captivates the viewer, compelling them to explore the various details depicted by the artist, made even more striking by the expressive shapes and vibrant colors.

The artwork, which is essentially created on a two-dimensional medium, had to be carefully translated into a three-dimensional object and this was achieved through an elaborate process, to create a bespoke functional element for your bath space. “We scanned these paintings and converted them into lithographs which were transferred onto the ceramic surface. It’s all about craftsmanship and precision, without any automation,” says Anand Asinkar, Senior Industrial Designer – Kohler India Studio.

A work of art, ‘Quila’ alone will elevate the aesthetic quotient of the bath space it is embedded in, telling stories of the glorious Rajput past through evocative visuals and bringing out the charm of Rajasthan. Collaborations like these are imperative today as they not only put Indian art on the global map, but also provide artisans with a platform to showcase their talent. And it is through these creative endeavors that the country’s centuries-old traditional arts, crafts, and techniques are gaining prominence and relevance in today’s times, preventing them from falling into oblivion.

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