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Waterlife

Overview

"Without a shadow of exaggeration, the most beautiful book I’ve ever laid eyes on." - Brainpickings.org

"This folk art collection of wood-cut style illustrations is so visually compelling, you may want three copies... one to leaf through at leisure, one to take apart to frame the full-page images, and one to bestow upon someone special." - SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

"Gloriously attractive, endlessly fascinating book. The illustrations of fish, reptiles, crustaceans and sea birds shine and shimmer; each is as vibrant...

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Overview

"Without a shadow of exaggeration, the most beautiful book I’ve ever laid eyes on." - Brainpickings.org

"This folk art collection of wood-cut style illustrations is so visually compelling, you may want three copies... one to leaf through at leisure, one to take apart to frame the full-page images, and one to bestow upon someone special." - SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

"Gloriously attractive, endlessly fascinating book. The illustrations of fish, reptiles, crustaceans and sea birds shine and shimmer; each is as vibrant as it is meticulous." - Asian Review of Books

Selected as featured title at the TED2012 Bookstore.

Waterlife features Mithila art, a form of folk painting from Bihar in eastern India. The artist Rambharos Jha grew up on the banks of the legendary river Ganga, and developed a fascination for water and water life. In this visually sumptuous book, Jha creates an unusual artist’s journal, adapting the motifs of the Mithila style to express his own vision. He frames his colorful images of octopus, crocodiles, birds and shellfish with a playful text that evokes both childhood memory and folk legend.

Waterlife is silk-screen printed by hand on handmade paper, and hand-numbered to indicate the limited print run. Comes shrink-wrapped.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Jha has chosen twelve creatures or scenes from life in the water to illustrate and comment upon in a sort of journal of observations and legends. The large, rectangular, limited edition book opens top to bottom held lengthwise; the illustrations, done in the Mithila style of folk painting from Bihar, East India, are silk-screen printed by hand on handmade paper. Crocodile Smile includes his reflections about the crocodile. The Trick illustrates a fable about a crane and some fish. Other creatures include a lobster, a snake chasing a frog, sea horses, an octopus, crabs, swans and lotus blossoms as marriage symbols, and a turtle and a frog. Jha's added commentaries help explain the shapes of the sea creatures and his use of decorative linear patterns. For example, he speculates about the lobster's "secret," and why he employed "a maze of lines, patterns, and colour [sic]" to "express its inner being." The intense redness of the lobster is in stark contrast with the undulating yellow and blue curves of the sea. The ocean bed forms mounds for a snake's resting place. In some images, he combines traditional Mithila fish shapes with his own "lines that pattern their bodies." Informative illustrations projecting very esthetically attractive objects fill this limited edition. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Library Journal
The population of the eastern state of Bihar, India, traditionally celebrates important life events by decorating house walls and floors with intricate designs of nature and images of Hindu deities. Printmaker and artist Jha adapts these traditional Mithila designs to his own project—portraits of aquatic animals. The result is a book of 12 vibrant yet delicate silk-screen images printed on handmade paper and presented in a limited edition of 3000 books. The artist, who grew up near the Ganges, provides brief commentary about each image. This production is a work of love by publisher Tara Books (based in Chennai, India) aiming to enhance appreciation of the traditional arts of India through picture books for adults and children. VERDICT A beautiful art book to own for its sensual pleasures. Recommended for special library collections.—Nancy B. Turner, Syracuse Univ. Lib., NY
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up—As an object, this book is exquisitely executed. Consisting of gorgeous prints of water life paired with brief reflections by the artist, the physical texture of the book-from the cloth cover to the handmade paper pages-serves as a rich complement to the visual texture of the silk-screened images. Jha presents his own interpretations of the traditional motifs found in Mithila art, a pattern-rich form of folk painting from the Bihar region of eastern India. The audience for this art book is somewhat unclear as the volume has no cohesive narrative and the artist's notes on what inspired the images or how the artistic decisions were made are not informative enough to be educational. However, it could have a place in art curriculums as style inspiration or as an exhibition of one artist's work, especially where there is a need for multicultural art. Although this book's limited appeal makes it an additional purchase for most libraries, it is indeed a work of art.—Anna Haase Krueger, Antigo Public Library, WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789380340135
  • Publisher: Tara Books
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Edition description: Limited
  • Pages: 28
  • Sales rank: 340,529
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 14.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Rambharos Jha grew up on the banks of the legendary river Ganga, and developed a fascination for water and water life. Born in the culture-rich district of Darbanga in the Mithila region, he moved to Madhubani as a child when his father started work in a government supported art and culture project. Since then he has followed his own creative impulses, developing the tradition in his own distinctive style. This is his first book.

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