Ram Singh Urveti, Acrylic on Canvas, 75 x 51.5 inches
The Gond community in central India, primarily found in Madhya Pradesh, is among the largest tribes in the country. ‘Gond’ comes from the Dravidian expression, ‘Kond’ that means ‘the green mountain’. The tribe is known to date back almost 1400 years and have been practicing the quintessential flora-fauna friendly technique and symbolism in their art work since time immemorial. In the early 1980s, Bharat Bhawan in Bhopal attempted to establish a common ground for art practices in India and as a part of it J Swaminathan encouraged many artistic communities including Gond artists and to provide a platform to them. Jangarh Singh Shyam, a master artist of the Gond community, was one such artist who rose to fame and is responsible for placing this form on the international map. The figures in these paintings have soft edges and are famous for its dots and lines that instill a sense of movement in the images. The use of vibrant colours breathe life into the figures as well as in the mind of the onlooker. Embedded with narratives, music, local legends and everyday practices, the works have created a new visual vocabulary with time. The Government of India has recognized this form of art and made efforts to preserve it.