Art masters and Indian tradition in Olivia Fraser's Miniatures from India

By Jess Strudwick | 06 November 2012
An image of a colourful painting of two Indian cows with red and yellow horns facing each other
Olivia Fraser, Diwali (2007). Pigment, Arabic gum, gold leaf on handmade Sanganer paper© Olivia Fraser, courtesy Grosvenor Gallery
Exhibition preview: Miniatures, Grosvenor Gallery, London, until November 16 2012

Olivia Fraser’s new collection takes the iconic imagery of Rajasthan in India and gives it a modern, Art Deco twist.

When she moved to India in 1989, Fraser’s work initially consisted of western watercolour paintings depicting India’s street scenes. She soon mastered the secrets of traditional Rajasthani miniature paintings by using stone pigments, handmade paper and natural brushes for her pieces.

Her painting flourished while working an apprenticeship in Jaipur, where she learned the benefits of using locally sourced products, frequently using rich tones of red and orange in her works.

She was mesmerised by her art master, Ajay Sharma, who taught her how to mix pigments and to make wasli paper.

“I would spend hours listening to him, relating how he used certain sap from a particular tree, or chalk from the cliffs around Jaipur, local flower petals or soot from an oil lamp,” she says.

Heavily influenced by Nathdwara Pichwai paintings, Fraser also explored working in a monochromatic fashion, replicating its visual language to create a striking image.

“I’m essentially using an Indian vocabulary,” she explains.

“I started off as a linguist and approached my paintings in a similar way. There is a certain meditative quality in the process of miniature painting, which is reflected in my subject matter.”

  • Grosvenor Gallery, Ryder Street, London. Open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5.30pm. Admission free.
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