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One of a Kind Phulkari

Chandigarh-based artist Madan Lal wins National Academy Award in the 58th National Exhibition of Art for his work titled 'Urban Phulkari'

Sitting in his studio in Sector 48, Chandigarh, surrounded by his canvases, an array of paints and brushes in all sizes, shapes and the winter sun filtering in through the windows, Madan Lal is a photographer’s delight. The well-known artist from the city, who is presently working as an Assistant Director, Design Textile Handicrafts and Textiles, Punjab Government in Chandigarh, has good news to share. And given his reserved nature, the artist hands us a letter to read for ourselves.

One of a Kind Phulkari, Lifeinchd
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Photo By:Vikram Joy

The official letter tells us that Madan Lal’s artwork titled ‘Urban Phulkari’ has been selected for the National Academy Award in the 58th National Exhibition of Art. The exhibition will be inaugurated on February 24, 2017, at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bengaluru. The award ceremony will be held on the same evening in Bengaluru as well. For the unaware, the National Academy Award carries a cash prize of Rs one lakh along with a copper plaque and certificate.

One of a Kind Phulkari, Lifeinchd
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Photo By:Vikram Joy

While he has received numerous national and international accolades in the past including one received last year from the Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation, the National Academy Award is indeed special to Madan Lal. It recognises his ongoing series on the urban landscape, the changing times and how people, animals, birds have adapted to their new surroundings. “It’s a series that I have been working on for a while,” informs Lal whose previous assignment was with the Northern India Institute of Fashion Technology (NIIFT), Mohali as Assistant Professor. 

Having lived in Chandigarh for over two decades now – he is also an alumnus of Government College of Art, Chandigarh – the city’s urban life has been a recurring theme in Madan Lal’s paintings. In ‘Urban Phulkari’, his award-winning work, the artist presents traditional Phulkari in an urban set-up. “In this series, I wanted to look at the past and present using Phulkari as a motif that stands for tradition,” explains the artist. 

One of a Kind Phulkari, Lifeinchd
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Photo By:Vikram Joy

Just like the vibrant colours one would see in an embroidered Phulkari baagh, Lal’s work is vibrant and intricate. If the Phulkari of the past brought women of the house together to stitch a tale of their times, Lal’s ‘Urban Phulkari’ shows the claustrophobic concrete jungle, the chaotic mess of technology that has invaded our lives. The loud chatter and noise is well depicted in the work so are the everyday rituals of life in a modern setting. Animals and birds (especially the parrot) always find place in Lal’s work. “We live in fast changing times. Everything around is undergoing change and it affects not just our lives but animals and birds too,” says Lal who hopes to exhibit his series in the city soon. 
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