Showing posts with label Folk and Tribal Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Folk and Tribal Art. Show all posts

19 Mar 2014

Social Cause: Empowering Artists from Raghurajpur

Empowering artists to create a sustainable model for livelihood and helping them conserve local folk art traditions.

It is a travesty that folk artists and craftsmen who work laboriously for hours have to struggle to make a living out of it. Ironically, in the process they contribute enormously in keeping local folk art and traditions alive. Folk and tribal arts and crafts are hugely popular with foreign tourists and the urban population, and yet despite their popularity these artisans receive only a small percentage of the sale amount. Commissions by middlemen and prices involved in handling the logistics make a huge dent in the amount which is received by the artists. 
The vibrant colors on the betel nuts depicting the Lord Jagannatha and his siblings, Image:Revanthv552, Wikipedia
This is a story intrinsic to every region and most vernacular art forms. There are only a few folk art forms which are lucrative for the artists and their families, for instance Gond and Madhubani art forms have entered mainstream galleries and with their contemporization, these have become popular as well as acceptable in higher price brackets. However, not all artists benefit even in these cases.

A social initiative #DoRight draws attention to artists from Raghurajpur – ‘a heritage arts & crafts village where every villager is an artist, and every home is an artist’s studio’. The village is famous for its master Pattachitra painters, an art form which dates back to 5the century BC. In fact, the families in this village practice various forms of traditional Odisha art, such as Pattachitra, tal chitra, silk painting, stone carving, coconut painting, betel nut painting, papier mache & masks, cowdung toys and ganjappa playing cards. Their artworks draw inspiration from mythology, religion and folklore.
 Patta Chitra Painting, showing Ganesha and Shiva, Source: Shakti, Wikipedia
Following an intensive process, these artists prepare the ‘patta’ – material which is made to look like leaves and natural colours; they then outline the design and fill it with vibrant colours. Each artwork can take anywhere from 5 to 15 days and sometimes even longer, maybe even months. Based on the level of detail, intricacy, finesse and the size of the paintings the prices vary anywhere from Rs 500 to 2 lakhs.

As this village enjoys a heritage status (in the year 2000 by INTACH) it does bring in many domestic and international tourists who buy paintings directly from them which benefits them immediately. However as this does not happen on a continuous basis and there are often middlemen involved, there is a huge disparity in the amount which the artists receive through the year.

In an effort to empower themselves the artists plan to sell the artworks directly to the customer through a dedicated website, which they hope to set up as soon as they can raise enough funds with our help. The #DoRight  initiative has the potential to have a ripple effect and inspire other communities of folk artists also, so they can aim for self-sufficiency and not depend on middlemen for their income.

So, here’s hoping that they soon succeed in their endeavors and are able to create a successful model which can sustain the artists' existence and also their art!

Related Posts,
GOND ART: To Empower Rural Children
GOND ART: Jangarh Singh Shyam’s Legacy
MANDANA ART: Expression of Joy

24 Feb 2014

Art in Interiors: Murals Bring Art to Interiors

A mural can be an extremely versatile way to add artwork to home interiors and should be explored, writes art consultant Nalini S Malaviya
A mural on the wall is an interesting way to introduce art in your surroundings. A slightly off beat option, murals are far less common than paintings on walls. Having a painting done directly on the wall is a long term commitment that you make to the artwork and the artist because it cannot be moved around at whim. Folk and tribal art continues to be the most popular option in murals as these are bright and colourful. Geometric, floral and animal motifs form the narrative and it is fascinating to watch a story unfold which can compellingly draw the viewer in. Contemporary art is also a good option, which one can explore.
Photograph and mural by One Red Shoe- Murals & Artwork, Image source:wikipedia
It can appear a little daunting to have a painting done directly on the walls and some of the issues that come up are –
  • What about the outcome, is it going to turn out well?
  • Will it blend with the rest of the décor?
  • Will it stand out too much and become overwhelming?
  • And, most importantly what do you do when you get bored with it?
These are all valid questions that one must consider before having a mural painted on a wall inside your home. One of the ways to deal with such a situation is to have the mural painted only at a later stage, for instance when the décor is in place and you have finalized wall colours, drapes and furnishings.

The advantage with a mural is that it offers great flexibility and the ability to complement the existing home décor, and therefore you can easily select themes, motives, colours and the size of the mural based on the space available and the décor. The artist will also have many ideas and will be able to guide you in terms of what is possible and what works best for that particular area. Opt for an artist who has experience in doing murals.
Madhubani folk art mural, Image source
Interestingly, folk and tribal art works very well in almost every form of décor scheme, and in most parts of the house. For instance, it fits in very well around the main entrance, lounge, dining area and the children’s room. Folk and tribal art with their colourful strokes has a universal appeal and the theme can be adapted to suit the space. Similarly, other art forms can be painted on a wall which needs to be highlighted and can be adapted completely to complement the space available – even if is an odd shape. Columns and pillars, beams and the ceiling can also be painted to create dramatic effects.

A mural can be an extremely versatile way to add artwork to home interiors and should be explored. A few years later you can change it and have a completely new mural in its place.

This article was published in The Times of India-The Address yesterday. 
Images are sourced from the Internet.

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Related Posts,
Chromatic Frames to Display Art
Art Installations to Complement Home Decor
Art In Home Decor
A Tradition of Textile Art

31 Aug 2013

Jangarh Singh Shyam’s Legacy – Gond Art Continues to Thrive

A tribal art demonstration was organized at Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore recently and it was a delight to see Jangarh Singh Shyam’s family members (his wife, Nankusia Shyam) and their associates diligently paint canvases and paper with Gond art.  Bright acrylic colours and meticulous detailing filled every inch of the space inside the outlined figures!

   Jangarh Singh Shyam – his Kalam

The Gond tribe is one of the largest Adivasi communities in India and they inhabited the dense forests of the Vindhyas, Satpura and Mandla in the Narmada region in Madhya Pradesh*.  As is common with most tribal communities who express their joys and sorrows collectively and in a ritualistic manner, the Gonds too have been celebrating their festivals and rituals with songs and dances. For centuries they have been rooted in their cultural practice and traditions.  However, in the 1980s many men from villages began to leave for the cities in search of work.  In those circumstances, Jagdeesh Swaminathan, who was the Director of Bharat Bhawan in Bhopal and was constructing the tribal art wing at Bharat Bhawan found Jangarh Singh Shyam who became the first Gond artist to use paper and canvas for his art.  As most of us know, Jangarh Singh Shyam’s tribal art found great support and success and was exhibited widely not only in India but also abroad.  When in Japan for a three month visit, while he was still in his thirties Jangarh Singh Shyam took his life, under circumstances which are still not clear.  When I met Nankusia Shyam, the late Jangarh Singh Shyam’s wife, one could see that she still carried the burden of the pain and loss.

Image by Nalini Malaviya

 Nankusia Shyam creates her own identity

Image by Nalini MalaviyaNankusia Shyam revealed that she had no interest in art initially, but later on at the insistence of her husband she began to fill in colours in the figures and drawings.  Once Jangarh Singh Shyam passed away, for her, painting was a way to continue his legacy as well as a means of survival.  During this phase, many artists tried to take advantage of the situation and promote themselves as Jangarh Singh Shyam’s heirs in the art world.  That forced Nankusia Shyam to come out of her mourning and establish herself and her family as the legitimate practitioners of Gond art – or rather the form which was initiated by Jangarh Singh Shyam.  She gained confidence as she worked more and often found herself working late in the night to complete images for paintings which had to be delivered.   

Incidentally, when Jangarh Singh Shyam was alive he already had a system in place where members of his community were apprenticing with him while painting and assisting him.  As a result, there is a whole community of Gond artists who are practicing this tribal art form and are exhibiting in art galleries in India and sometimes even abroad. The particular style and genre of Gond painting which was initiated by Jangarh Singh Shyam is termed Jangarh Kalam. Bhuri Bai and Lado Bai who were also present at the demonstration in Bangalore have been associated with Nankusia Shyam for a long time.

Image by Nalini MalaviyaImage by Nalini Malaviya

Coming back to Nankusia Shyam, she has clearly come a long way.  If you compare her early works to the recent ones, there is a greater clarity and confidence in the paintings now.  Images are refined and there is finesse in her works.  Mythical animals, fables and other stories along with elements from nature are reflected in her paintings.  Her two older children, son Mayank and daughter Japani are also accomplished artists as they have been painting for many years.  I came across one of Japani’s paintings which was a delightful black and white work, with a fascinating imagery and contextually much more contemporary in nature. Nankusia Shyam’s youngest son has not shown much interest in painting until now, but she is optimistic that he may take it up soon!

Folk and Tribal Art – Survival?

Gond art in its current form has been able to establish itself in the mainstream galleries and has also been part of curated exhibitions.  And, although there is a lot of competition amongst the Gond artists to find recognition and acceptance in galleries and auctions, I feel it has fared much better than other folk and tribal arts, which are rendered as crafts displayed in handicraft and lifestyle stores. 
No doubt, commercial and business aspects have crept into the Gond art practice as well, but then one must accept that at the end of the day it is a question of survival.  As I have said many times before, what is much needed at this juncture is sufficient government and corporate support to ensure that our folk and tribal art and other cultural practices/traditions can be sustained and conserved.


8 Apr 2007

Expression of Joy - Mandana Painting

(By Nalini S Malaviya)
These monochromatic paintings on paper are outstanding examples of tribal art done by Meena women from Rajasthan. Intricate designs of animals, birds and other motifs have been painted in exquisite detail. White pigment on brown paper has a stark yet delicate effect that resembles lacework, at times. A tree surrounded with parrots, tiger, peacocks and lotus flowers have been represented through linear drawings. Geometric patterns have also been used to fill up space and add decorative value. The result is quite stunning, especially because some of the works have been done on very large panels. What is also interesting is that most of these paintings are a result of group efforts yet it is impossible to detect any blemishes or oversights.

Mandana-Painting-Folk and tribal art, India
The Meena tribe is an ancient tribal group living in the eastern part of Rajasthan. The art form called ‘Mandana’ is practiced exclusively by women. For them it is an expression of joy on festive occasions. It is done on the mud walls of houses and traditionally, colored glass, beads, mirrors and stones are also used to decorate these paintings. The conventional art form is created using white chalk and brushes made of khajur or bamboo sticks. The end of the stick is crushed to form fine bristles. The mandanas are painted on walls and floors. Often, geometric patterns are painted on walls, while representational forms of animals, birds, plants and flowers are painted on the walls.

The exhibition titled ‘Joy of Creativity’ is on view till April 10 at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Kumara Krupa Road and at Time and Space Art Gallery, # 55, Lavelle Road, Bangalore.
(Published in FT, Bangalore)

18 Jan 2007

Rendezvous with artist Haku Shah

There have been no new posts for some time as I have been down with flu... However, I did attend a talk by artist Haku Shah at Alliance Francaise, which was interesting even though bad acoustics made hearing quite impossible. It was delightful meeting Haku Bhai, a humble and down to earth personality, and seeing his digital prints and black and white photographs. The prints were based on a Gujarati fairytale of Manapari, while the photographs on folk and tribal art. The following day I went for the preview of his paintings that was held at another art gallery. His paintings have a simplicity that is rare and endearing.
Image courtesy Haku Shah
Considered to be an authority on tribal and folk art, Haku bhai's paintings portray his closeness to tribal art and culture. A human figure playing the flute, a cow or a tree in the background, a bird perched on a person’s hand, are on the surface simple subjects that seem to be inspired by rural scenarios. The images are flat and have a narrative quality despite uncomplicated images and a minimalist look. However, there is a building of layers and a deeper thought process involved that make his works special. Aesthetic and tranquil, his protagonists appear to be far removed from the urban chaos and turmoil – they stand unaffected amidst peaceful surroundings at one with nature. Born in 1934 in Valod (Gujarat), Haku Bhai completed BFA and MFA in Fine Arts from M S University, Baroda and was awarded the Rockefeller Grant (1968) and Nehru Fellowship Award (1971). In 1968, he curated the ‘Unknown India’ an exhibition organized by Dr. Stella Kramrisch at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
image courtesy Haku Shah(some of the text has been published in Financial Times, Bangalore)