Folk And Tribal Arts of India: Part 1

Elizabeth Prendiville of Saffronart introduces the indigenous art forms of Patachitra and Jogi Art alongside illustrated lots from Storyltd’s upcoming auction of tribal and folk art

Lot 5, Bengal Scroll https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=5

Lot 5, Bengal Scroll
https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=5

NEW YORK: On September 24th StoryLTD’s newest Absolute Auction of Folk and Tribal Art will go live with an eclectic collection of indigenous art works depicting a vast array of artistic traditions from different regions of India. These techniques represent longstanding regional narrative and customs with colourful hues, varying textures and elaborate compositions. Two techniques represented in this sale include the multi-dimensional storytelling tradition of Patachitra scroll paintings and the family rooted Jogi art.

Patachitra, originating in the Eastern Indian state of Odisha, is essentially an ornate cloth-based scroll painting. Although these colourful works have organic and humble roots they offer a wealth of narrative possibilities. “Patta” means “cloth” in Sanskrit while “chitra” means picture or painting. True to the name, layers of cotton cloth are adhered together with a natural glue product and formed into scrolls. Patachitras made of lighter paper materials are sometimes reinforced with saris to extend their life. It is essential that these scrolls remain intact as they are exhibited by traditional story tellers that travel distances and use these scrolls in their performances. The subject is often based on Ramayana or regional folklore and mythology. However, they also sometimes contain narratives from Muslim and Sufi traditions. Traditionally crafted by travelling bards, each scroll was accompanied by a song. Thus each Patachitra was experienced as a multidimensional piece, with a narrative conveyed in both visuals and music. The tradition of Patachitras continues and contemporary scrolls often convey current events or pivotal moments in recent history.

Lot 86, Jabbar Chitrakar and Unknown artist, Bengal Scroll https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=86

Lot 86, Jabbar Chitrakar and Unknown artist, Bengal Scroll https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=86

A fitting example of these Bengal scrolls can be seen in Lot 85 and 86 in the Absolute Auction of Folk and Tribal Art by Jabbar Chitrakar and Yamuna Chitrakar. These colourful works are made from natural pigments and shows two narratives simultaneously. The title Chitrakar, literally meaning painter, is taken on by the performers. Not formally trained in the art of painting, these chitrakars learn the traditional skills in a local setting, becoming travelling showmen who are adept in more ways in one, donning multiple roles- painters, singers, performers, storytellers.

Lot 82, Govind Jogi, Jogi Art https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=82

Lot 82, Govind Jogi, Jogi Art https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=82

Much like the scroll paintings of Bengal, Jogi Art has an interesting history. Ganesh Jogi, the namesake of this artistic form, performed as a musician in Rajasthan. Following the traditional professional associated with the Jogi caste, the family would wander the streets in the early hours of the morning, singing devotional songs and receiving grains, clothes and occasionally money from people. Due to changing times they had to move to the neighbouring state of Gujrat to seek a livelihood. A chance encounter with the eminent artist and anthropologist in the 1980s laid roots for the blossoming of this visual art form. Shah encouraged Ganesh and his wife Teju to draw from their hearts and imagination images that inhabit their world. Over time these illustrations became detailed and complex, a true visual delight. The current lots showcasing Jogi Art present the evolutionary and transformative potential of traditional artistic practices. They present varied themes that include village life, current events and contemporary discourses like environmentalism.

Lot 83, Teju Ben, Jogi Art https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=83

Lot 83, Teju Ben, Jogi Art https://www.storyltd.com/auction/item.aspx?eid=3741&lotno=83

StoryLTD’s upcoming auction of folk and tribal art presents an opportunity to partake in India’s traditional visual practices, the range of artworks included in the sale are sure to peak one’s curiosity about the indigenous art genres existing in the different regions of the subcontinent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sujata Bajaj: Peregrination of Colour

Ambika Rajgopal of Saffronart announces the upcoming exhibition of Sujata Bajaj at Indigo Blue Art, Singapore.

Peregrination of Colour, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.artalivegallery.com/artists.php?page=3&cat=artists&scat=42&show_display=&show_work=true#3

Peregrination of Colour, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.artalivegallery.com/artists.php?page=3&cat=artists&scat=42&show_display=&show_work=true#3

London: The word ‘peregrination’ makes complete sense when seen in the context of Sujata Bajaj’s new series- Peregrination of Colour, showing at Indigo Blue Art Gallery, Singapore. A quick glance at a dictionary clarifies the meaning of the word, which means ‘to walk or travel over’. Bajaj infuses her canvas with colour in such a dynamic way, that the hues literally travel all over the canvas, leading the eye across its expanse.

Bajaj’s relationship with colours has seen a lot of different influences. Originally hailing from Rajasthan, where colours are the celebratory essence of day-to-day living, her life journey landed her to embrace diverse traditions. Bajaj graduated from SNDT College, Pune in Art and Painting, before going on to pursue a PhD in Indian tribal art, where the focus of her thesis was on tribal art and its influence on contemporary art. After completion of her doctorate, through the patronage of S. H. Raza, Bajaj was awarded a scholarship by the French government and attended the prestigious École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Peregrination of Colour I, 2010, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.artalivegallery.com/artists.php?page=5&cat=artists&scat=42&show_display=&show_work=true#5

Peregrination of Colour I, 2010, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.artalivegallery.com/artists.php?page=5&cat=artists&scat=42&show_display=&show_work=true#5

From every step in her journey, Bajaj picked up aesthetic components so as to form a unique pastiche, where Occidental modernism fused with Indian visual language of tribal art.

…in the ochre yellow and red palette, we are recalled into the ritual circle of sacrifice; a hero-stone, a tribal totem, a lost goddess of fertility is suggested by certain motifs; and in the elegant calligraphy of the sacred texts, the hymns repeated until the pitch of perfection has been achieved.- Ranjit Hoskote

The Last Bird (detail), 2005, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://artradarjournal.com/2011/12/13/words-in-art-how-indian-born-sujata-bajaj-uses-sanskrit-on-canvas/

The Last Bird (detail), 2005, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://artradarjournal.com/2011/12/13/words-in-art-how-indian-born-sujata-bajaj-uses-sanskrit-on-canvas/

Though currently based in Paris, Bajaj amalgamates an underlying profound ethnicism into her art practice. From incorporating texts from Sanskrit documents like the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata, to paying homage to the sacrosanctity of colours. Bajaj elaborates:

For me, red is everything. It has passion, it has violence, it has energy, it has love and aggression, it is the colour of divinity in India. Red is saffron; it is the colour of meditation. As a colour, it has so much power. In India, it is connected to marriage, because we wear red when we marry. Red carries all the meanings of life.

Ascent, 2005, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=2278

Ascent, 2005, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=2278

Perhaps this is why the colours occupy such a strong pivotal focus in her work. She offsets the colours with bold black lines intrepidly traversing the frame. Far from being meditative, Bajaj’s canvases pulsate with the energy of the vibrant hues she uses. At the same time, they are controlled by the deliberate strokes of the neutral blacks and whites.

Untitled, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=8396

Untitled, Sujata Bajaj. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/auctions/PostWork.aspx?l=8396

Bajaj will be present on the exhibition preview on 10 October, from 6.30 to 9 pm to sign copies of her coffee table book, L’Ordre du monde.

The show is on view from the 10th October till the 22nd November 2013. This will be Bajaj’s first solo exhibition in Singapore.

For more information, please access the gallery website.

Folk and Tribal Art: Gond Painting

Josheen Oberoi of Saffronart looks (very briefly) at what constitutes Gond Art

New York: Folk and tribal arts are relatively less exposed forms of narrative Indian art and contain within them a gamut of styles originating from various geographical regions in India; Gond art is one such art form.

Jangarh Singh Shyam
Untitled, 1984
Acrylic on canvas, 55.5 x 32.5 inches
Image courtesy: Saffronart

The term Gond art refers to paintings that emerge from a heterogeneous tribal group called the Gond or Koiture, mostly centered in Madhya Pradesh. Even within the phrase Gond art there is a wide spectrum of artistic styles, primarily connected to distinct painters and their practices. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts’s (IGNCA) research discusses the cultural roots of the Gonds and also indicates the unifying theme in Gond art – the pervasive presence of nature. Their pantheon of gods are intimately connected to nature and their strong tradition of oral narrative seemingly transfers to their paintings as well.

The first Gond artist to gain national recognition was Jangarh Singh Shyam (who died in 2001), and in fact, the present genre of Gond painting is called Janagarh Kalam after his pioneering style. He was discovered in the 1980s by the late Jagdish Swaminathan, then Director of Bharat Bhawan in Bhopal. Jangarh Singh Shyam was the first artist to paint on paper and canvas instead of directly on earth or walls of the home. The intricacy and control in his dot-based designs is seen in the works of all Gond artists, as are his most common subjects – the tree of life and various animals.

Ram Singh Urveti
Untitled, 2011
55.5 x 45 inches
Image courtesy: Saffronart

The tree of life is also a favourite subject of Ram Singh Urveti and Suresh Kumar Dhruve. Ram Singh Urveti uses a deep colour palette and combines his imagery of trees with a variety of animals, creating a synergy of plants and animals in his work, while Suresh Kumar Dhruve often presents trees almost like a totem pole, erect and still, surrounded by human figures.

Jangarh Singh Shyam’s wife Nankusia Shyam and daughter Japani Shyam are also renowned Gond artists. Their paintings are inhabited by the world of animals, although their individual aesthetics are distinct. Nankusia Shyam often paints animals from her childhood memories or shares her impression of urban culture in the shape of these animals. Japani Shyam, on the other hand, almost seems to capture the eco systems in which animals survive; her works are denser, they are reproductions of the worlds that animals and plants survive in.

Japani Shyam
Untitled, 2011
Acrylic and ink on canvas, 36 x 48 inches
Image courtesy: Saffronart

In Narmada Prasad Tekam’s painting, plants and animals share equal footing; they are not shown as a continuum, as in Jangarh Singh Shyam or Ram Singh Urveti’s work. These detailed works contain everyday creatures, recognizable in their presence.

Narmada Prasad Tekam
Untitled
Acrylic on canvas, 68 x 45 inches
Image courtesy: Saffronart

Durga Bai’s works, which have been widely exhibited in India and abroad, show a dynamism and movement within the picture that is unique to her. Brightly hued, hers are narratives of folk tales and deities, of goddesses remembered.

Durga Bai
Untitled
Acrylic on canvas, 68 x 123 inches
Image courtesy: Saffronart

Dhavat Singh
Tiger Tales 1, 2009
Acrylic and ink on canvas, 67.5 x 47.5 inches
Image courtesy: Saffronart

Dhavat Singh’s Tiger Tales are vivid representations of tigers, their interactions with their surroundings and the folklore that surrounds these majestic animals. Equal parts contemporary and traditional; these are visceral works, extending the parameters of Gond art, as it stands today.

The story telling, the fantastical animals and trees is a thread that runs through the work of Gond artists, rooted in their folk tales and culture. However, each of these artists, as evident in these images, has developed a specific language within these narratives creating a richness of aesthetic forms and styles.

These artists represent only a fraction of practitioners of Gond art. A more extensive list and information is at the IGNCA website.

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