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I made most of these years ago — before I knew of “memes” and what not — and someone reminded me of them recently. Ravi Varma, popularly known as Raja Ravi Varma, is the grandaddy of Indian kitsch and calendar art. His paintings were once extremely popular in India but as you might be able to tell from what’s below, his art is not what you’d describe as timeless.

It took me forever to find these and I was pretty sure that they wouldn’t be half as funny as I remembered them to be, but they’re actually not bad. I’m glad my taste in fonts has improved though.


abs breast-exam credit-card fashion flute hey-girl hey-girl2 masterji one-big-fat-sandwich sniff sniff2 spinner underwear

3 thoughts on “Ravi Varma Remixed

  1. Wow. This sentence made me ROFL a bit. “his art is not what you’d describe as timeless.” Not ROFL at the paintings mind you, actually at your opinion stated so blithely.

    This, about an artist whose paintings and oleographs remain pride of place in homes and temples across the country. Who, perhaps more than anyone else, has shaped how many in country picture characters from our epics and mythos. Whose paintings sell at auctions for millions of dollars. Yeah sure, not timeless. 🙂

    I see this post was made 7 years ago, and of course every one is entitled to their own opinion. Appreciation of art is subjective, after all. Still, I never thought I would hear a “not timeless” tag attached to Ravi Varma’s paintings. Oh well. …let’s hope your opinion has evolved over the years!!

    • Seriously, I was thinking the same thing. This post attempts to be witty I guess, but has completely missed the historical significance and enduring popularity of Ravi Varma’s art. While his paintings are sold for crores in auction houses all over the world, his oleographs are also very popular and in great demand, even after the advent of digital colour printing. Check out the sales figures of printing houses like Tallenge, Vistaprint and others, dispatching reprints of his art. This would certainly not be the case if they lacked contemporary appeal and relevance.

      Ravi Varma’s oleographs brought a revolution not only in art, but in religion and society as well. They are found in the most varied of places, from small village homes to the glittering mansions of the rich and famous, to the courtyards and corridors of well known as well as tiny temples across the country. Today if we think of the images of Goddesses Lakshmi or Saraswati, or the famous image of Arjun-Subhadra, we think of them as they were painted by Ravi Varma. He took art to the common man and played a key role in a substantive socio-religious revolution in India.

      Yes, sure, some of his paintings may perhaps be meme-inducing – Vishwamitra’s pose in the “Birth of Shakuntala” painting, for instance, could be taken hilariously as miming an armpit-sniff. But plenty of others in the post above, frankly lend themselves to memes only in a very forced and tangential manner. Seems to be more an exercise in making snide asides for the sake of it?

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