Ancient touch of art

ByProma Chakraborty

Sep 6, 2019

Satrangi – the annual exhibition at Ojas art gallery – explores and follows the legacy of traditional Warli tribal art

Soil, cow dung and rice paste – all constituents of Warli tribal murals back in 2500 BC, has now come a long way. Illuminating parallels between the traditional Warli works – with a contemporary take on the same, Satrangi is back with its fifth edition.

Much like every year, this year too, September will light up with pictorial narratives at Satrangi, in Ojas Art Gallery. An annual exhibition, it explores one genre of tribal art every year. Previous editions have seen several shows in the genres of Gond, Madhubani-Mithila and Bheel, and this year it celebrates Warli. The aim is to bring forth these traditional art techniques and keep their skills alive and appreciated.

Through their ritualistic paintings made as murals on walls, the Warli tribals speak of ancient times and evoke their ancestral cultures, dating back to 2,500 BC. Mainly created by women to mark and observe weddings, ceremonies and joyous occasions — these murals were made using soil, cow dung and rice paste.

It was only in the 1970s that this art form was transferred from walls to canvases, which also helped in bringing forth  the art form to the world. Jivya Soma Mashe (1934 – 2018) popularised this art form and is considered as the Father of Contemporary Warli Art.

“The present exhibition presents some of the finest Warli paintings in contemporary times, covering almost all the variegated aspects of the thousand-year-old tradition. It is an attempt to give art connoisseurs an opportunity to peep into this most ancient art tradition which is still alive in its original pristine form,” says Neeru Misra, project advisor, Satrangi.

Featuring a selection of around 40 imposing, thought provoking artworks, the show will reveal how the artists have embraced this art of the past in order to leap forward and contribute to the language of this 21st century. Following the legacy of traditional Warli style, the artists’ works are reflective of human engagement with the environment.

The participating artists are experts in their fields. Featuring the Ojas Art Awardees — Rajesh Chaitya Vangad, Tushar and Mayur Vayeda along with Amit Mahadev Dombhare, Kishore Mahase, Sadashiv Mashe and Shantaram Gorkhana — the award is co-organised between Teamwork Arts, producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and Delhi-based art organisation OJAS Art. In 2019 the award focused on excellence in Warli Art.

“I believe that art has a language. It makes the spectators feel and with this edition of Satrangi we once again explore this connection that the human mind and soul has with art,” shares curator Anubhav Nath.

The exhibition is on display
at Ojas Art Gallery till September 25