Tribal art soaks national capital in varied hues

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS) Pictorial descriptions of occupations and celebrations, close association of man and nature and ritual paintings in animated figures – glimpses of tribal art from four Indian states are being showcased at an exhibition here.

The four most popular tribal painting styles – Pithora from Gujarat, Gond from Madhya Pradesh, Saura from Odisha and Warli from Maharashtra – are being exhibited at the India International Centre till Jan 12.
“Adi Chitra”, an annual exhibition by Tribes India under the ministry of tribal affairs, works closely with tribal artists from across India and procures artworks from them and sells through their retail showrooms. They have 16 regional offices.
“Each of these paintings narrate a story,” Poonam Goyal, junior commercial assistant, Tribes India told IANS.
“The style of each tribe is different from one another. Like Gond paintings will have a lot of flora and fauna, nature and environment, Warli and Saura narrate tales of occupation and celebration. Pithora paintings are always in vibrant colours and will have borders on four sides,” she added.
There is a symmetry and structural pattern each of the painting follows. It is in the form of spirals, trees, falling leaves, dancing animals or random placement of village houses – perfect juxtaposition of human figures, nature, village life and rituals.
Forty-five-year-old Ram Narayan Marwi from Bhopal demonstrated his art live at the exhibition that started Jan 8. Completely absorbed, he neatly filled square boxes of his Gond painting that showed a man wearing monkey skin, climbing a tree to fool birds.
“He is trying to fool these birds so that he can catch them,” he told IANS, adding these “boxes” are his style.
“An artist has to develop his own distinctive style. I use these squares to fill human figures, and people recognise me for that,” he added, saying he takes three days to complete one painting that involves 10 hours of dedicated work.
These efforts of Marwi don’t go waste either, as many Indian and foreigners spend “good” amount of money on these paintings.
“There are many takers for tribal art. This in a way is good, but has also led to commercialisation. Earlier most of these artists used natural colours, but now they use acrylics,” said Goel, adding a Gond painting without frame can be bought for Rs.6,000.
But the Warli painters have still maintained their tradition of smearing canvas with cow dung and mud paste, and use white colour (made from boiled rice).
“Gond is the most expensive tribal art form. They are extremely colourful, and people like such aesthetics. This is why they have become commercial, unlike Warli which is still traditionally rooted,” concluded Goel.