Ahmedabad is home to a growing cluster of art lovers and thus every week many of us flock to art galleries to appreciate local artists. Hyatt Ahmedabad has recently launched their art gallery and the second exhibition they hosted was “The Gond Art” curated by Rati Khemka Malaiya.
Gond Art hails from Madhya Pradesh and the name oozes a sense of tribal art form. But when you look at the curated art works of 12 prominent Gond artists, you will be forced to think of the possibilities of contemporizing tribal art to suit urban sensibilities.
Gond art is a relatively less exposed form of narrative Indian art. Curater Rati Khemka Malaiya explains that “The Gond tribal community is one of central India’s largest indigenous communities. Their art is a surreal mix of memories, emotions, experiences, dreams, perceptions and imagination, juxtaposed with an expression of their everyday quest for life. The Gond art rendezvous with the belief that “viewing a good image begets good luck”.
Each painting in this exhibition depicts an original story in the most colorful manner. Originally painted as symbols of good fortune on the walls and floors of Gondi dwellings or Bhiiti Chitra, this art form has now found a uniquely contemporary expression in brilliant acrylic hues on paper and canvas. While its origin has resulted in its categorization as tribal, the recent experimentation and innovation by Gond artists has made a strong case for it to be recognized as a contemporary art form.
The contemporize form of Gond art is a recent phenomena. Rati explains, “Originally Gond art was limited to the Pradhans community, who were essentially the balladeers of the mighty Gond kings. They were responsible for the collective memory of the tribe through narration. Every three years, the Pradhans would make an appearance at their Gond patrons’ house, and narrate the saga of their patrons’ lives. The patrons would in turn make provisions for the livelihood of the Pradhan community. Over the years, with the decline of the Gond Kings, this tradition also declined.”
Interestingly the first Gond artist to gain international recognition was Jangard Singh Shyam who took it upon himself to promote this art form within his extended family. Thus, most of the Gond artists today are related to each other. It was in the 1970’s that Jangard Singh Shyam put Gond art on the world map by taking his works to Paris, Tokyo and New York.
One distinct quality of this art form is the fact that essentially each piece of work is based around a nature inspired theme. Each painting will have a basic motif and every section of the motif will be filled with a pattern comprising of dots and dashes. It is fascinating to see that every artist has a unique pattern of dots and dashes and has an explanation as to why they choose such a pattern. These intricate patterns include forms like ants, trident, peacock feather, rope, water ripples, tiger ripples etc. In fact, these patterns are essentially a signature of the Gond artist, which enables the patron to identify the artist by merely looking at the pattern.
The Gond art is a collection of rich visual narrative imaginary which will win your heart in a beat. If you plan to invest in Gond art, then some artists to look out for include Venkat Raman Singh, Rajendra Shyam, Subhash Vyam, Dilip Shyam, Dhawat Singh Uikey, Nankusia Shyam, Ram Singh Urveti, Suresh Kumar Dhurve, Hiraman Urveti, Vijay Kumar Shyam, Mohan Singh Shyam and Gariba Singh Tekam.