Vikram Goyal’s new book unveils his family’s collection of Nathdwara miniature paintings

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Vikram Goyal, the award-winning product designer known for breathing new life into traditional Indian craftsmanship, is the driving force behind an extraordinary 192-page limited edition book, Shringara of Shrinathji. Featuring miniature paintings of Shrinathji from the collection of Goyal’s grandfather, the late Gokal Lal Mehta, it features 60 works that have been reproduced for the first time for a wider audience. The foreword is by Goyal’s mother, Vanmala Mehta, who writes that the paintings form a bridge that connects the family to each other, their ancestors and their faith. The accompanying essay, written by renowned artist and scholar Amit Ambalal, explains that the paintings are of the Nathdwara school – named after the deity of the Nathdwara temple in Rajasthan – and depict Shrinathji, a manifestation of Krishna, as he is worshiped through the various seasons and feasts of the year. The collection includes miniatures passed down to Goyal’s family from their ancestor, Rai Pannalal Mehta (1843-1919), the progressive former prime minister of the former state of Mewar (now Udaipur) who served four maharanas and is considered a beacon of reform in the Region. His portrait was painted by Raja Ravi Varma.

The cover of Shringara of Shrinathji: From the Collection of the Late Gokal Lal Mehta by Amit Ambalal and Vikram Goyal (Mapin Publishing, 2021).

Courtesy of Viya Home & Nirvaan Design

Many of the paintings in Goyal’s family collection are by Sukhdev Kishandas Gaur, the chief artist of the Nathdwara temple, under Tilkayat Govardhanlalji, and “the first of the Nathdwara artists to adopt a photographic perspective in painting”, writes Ambalal. The paintings celebrate worship through loving devotion, as seen through the eyes of the 16th century Pushtimarg sect, followers of Vallabhacharya, a pillar of the Bhakti movement that arose across India. Goyal’s family were the main patrons of this sect. “These paintings by Nathdwara were an inspiration for my work,” says Goyal, recalling that when he launched Viya Home 20 years ago, his main goal was to create a modern design language, a space where it could work with local materials and artisans and tap into India’s strong craft skills. He chose to work in brass, a material long associated with India, and turned to picwai paintings and their motifs – the lotus, the cow and the peacock – for creative stimulation. Working with highly skilled artisans, Viya Home has crafted decorative and functional products – tables, sculptures, doorknobs, light fixtures, chandeliers, sinks – that are the definition of a contemporary Indian aesthetic that respects heritage without being limited to it. . Its metal craftsmen have referenced the Nathdwara fabric pichhwais to create their own versions, hand-sculpted in metal using the repoussé technique. The result is breathtaking.

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