Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Conversation of Pictures: Uma Krishnaswamy and Rumana Husain

Look at these two images. One is a page from my picture book, Out of the Way! Out of the Way! with art by Uma Krishnaswamy. The other is the jacket image from Hara Samandar (Green Ocean), a picture book written (originally in Urdu) and illustrated by Rumana Husain, and published in Pakistan. The cover shown here is of the Sindhi edition. 

I was blown away by how these images seem stylistically to be speaking to each other: Look at their orientation on the page, the wavy horizon line, the use of white space, the embroidered appearance of trees in Uma's picture and the sun in Rumana's, and much, much more. So I thought it might be fun to get both artists to talk to me and to each other, and that maybe these images could be a starting point.
I invited Uma and Rumana to consider these images side by side, and in that context, to answer the question: Where did these pictures come from, for you? 

I was curious to see what influences might have exerted a tug on these two artists and picture book creators, working 1100 miles (1900 km) apart, when they each crafted these paintings. There's clearly a common folk idiom being employed here, and more, a similar way of looking at the pictorial world of a story.

While those posts are still under construction, enjoy the pictures, used here by permission of the artists.


  1. The parallels between the art is so interesting! I've been thinking of folk art ever since Katia posted pictures of her beautiful new wall in Dhaka. Look forward to the hearing from Uma and Rumana.

    And I have to ask ... is it Hara Samundar as in Hara Samundar Gopi Chander bol meri machli kitna pani?? Doesn't that bring back some grade school memories!!

  2. Yes, Nandini, that's the one! And if you look at Katia's wall, it's the same kind of art--a different regional nuance, sure, but essentially, the same idiom. I think Katia's wall could speak to these pictures too.

  3. Loved it. I am sure about a common folk idiom here. Uma, I loved your illustrations for the Madhyapradesh Folk Tale 'How the Eatrh was born?"


    S. Gopalakrishnan,
    New Delhi

  4. S.G., just to clarify: I'm not Uma the illustrator, I'm Uma Krishnaswami (spelled with an i). I've written a number of children's books, including Out of the Way! Out of the Way! which Uma Krishnaswamy illustrated. I'll certainly let her know about your comment. I think the book title you're referring to is written by Sandhya Rao and illustrated by Uma: And Land Was Born.