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by Mahaveer Swami

The style of painting developed in Bikaner has more relevant to Mughal style of painting than to other Rajasthani style of painting. The reasons are: Firstly, The close association of the Bikaner rulers with the Mughal Emperors like Raja Rai Singh was particularly close to Akbar & Jahangir, Secondly, the unemployment of Muslim Painters from Delhi and Agra. Some exquisite examples of this school were painted by these painters during the reigns of Rai Singh, Karan Singh and Anup Singh. Their subject matter included excellent portrait studies, beautiful Baramasa, Ragmala, Bhagavata  Purana and Krishnalilla illustrations, etc. In these paintings the dazzling colour of Malwa, the folk scenes of Jodhpur or the striking landscape of Bundi are totally absent. Instead of these regional characteristics of Rajasthani Paintings, Bikaner produced extremely sophisticated works with delicate lines and tonal range normally encountered in the products of Mughal Studies. It appears that quite a few leading painters made redundant due to the shift of interest in Architecture by Shahjahan’s, took service with such gifted patrons of Art as Karan Singh. One of them was Ali Raza who painted brilliant paintings of Lakshmi Narayana and the portrait of Karan Singh, carried fine draftmanship, perfect technical execution and maturity of Mughal Art in Bikaner. The other famous Painter was Rukh-ud-din who brought to Bikaner a number of Deccani Art Elements, particularly the technique of rendering fountains and court scenes, pictorial quality and perception of nature and nature based background.

Later the migration of Art elements from Mughal-Court was not only featured in paintings but also reflects in Bikaner’s Architecture (Havelis). The exchange of subtle artist’s skills directs Bikaner local Painters and Sculptors a way to spread their skills beyond the Court. As the result most of the Businessmen, Landlords got chance to use those Artists and their skills.

In current scenario only Mr. Mahaveer Swami reviving and developing the Bikaner style of painting, awarded the title of Master Craftsman from President of India on a Painting called “Buffalo Fight”. The painting is very much influenced with the style of Great Mughal Court Painter Miskin.

Mahaveer Swami paintings are strongly influenced by his studies of Mughal and Rajasthan style of paintings. His subject matters are often drawn from the lifestyle of Indian Women, Sufis, Saints, Sages, Yogis and Yoginis. He prefers to explore new subjects, new contexts and new forms of expressions for example he developed paintings on daily life of Indian women, on mythological stories, on different social issues, on Indian games, etc.