Charming narrative of Gond art, creativity

Charming narrative of Gond art, creativity

Folk expressions

Of all the folk arts prevalent in India, Gond art is the easiest on both eyes and intellect. Simple depictions of tribal life, an obsession with birds, animals and trees, and overwhelming use of lines and patterns – one could even mistake them to be children’s handiwork.

And yet, it is this down-to-earth quality, found in Gond art, which makes it endearing and universal in appeal.

Since the time the British anthropologist Verrier Elwin first ‘discovered’ Gond art, during his stay in Madhya Pradesh in the 1930s, the indigenous art has travelled far and wide. Many Gond artists have exhibited their paintings in galleries abroad. Gond art has even been compared to the Australian aboriginal cave paintings. Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure to see these charming paintings on show, down in Delhi.

Well known city gallery, Arts of the Earth, which is dedicated to the folk and tribal arts of India, is showcasing ‘Art of the Gond-II.’ This exhibition is a continuation of another Gond art show it held last year. It features both, by-now internationally-famed Gond art practitioners, their younger generations and ‘upcoming’ Gond artists. It is interesting to see how Gond art is evolving with new hands picking up the craft. More ‘contemporary’ Gond paintings share gallery space with authentic traditional Gond artworks.

Owner of the gallery, Meena Verma says, “Gond art is special as it is a form of worship of nature. You will find endless references to the sun, moon, river, flora and fauna. Also, Gond art is different from other folk and tribal art forms for the fact that it doesn’t allude to Hindu deities. Madhubani, Pattachitra and temple murals, for example, extol Shiva, Parvati, Krishna and Ram. Gond art only venerates Gond deities.”

A painting by Ram Narayan Marawi, for inst­an­ce, hints at animism. A fie­rce tiger is situated between symbolic tridents and flags. The fine lines and patterns exhibited herein make it look like needlework on cloth. Durga Bai and Rajendar Kumar’s paintings bear a similar texture though the subject is, mostly, the relationship human beings have with trees.

A painting by Bhajju Shyam has only bees flying towards their hive. It is admirable for its fine detailing. Another one by Ram Singh Urveti, crowded by birds, is attractive, though done in only black and white. Visit this exhibition at Arts of the Earth gallery, Lado Sarai between 11.30 am and 6 pm, Monday to Saturday. It’s on till June 30.