Speaking about the idea of the exhibition, curator Akhilesh says, “It all started from a small city, Bhopal when renowned artist J Swaminathan was invited by Madhya Pradesh Government to set up a state art museum. He proposed a contemporary art museum that also featured rich tribal and folk art of the state. He never said that these artists living in the jungle are contemporary but he proved it by bringing their expression to the front. If we look back we find even Picasso has used tribal art as his own elements. Here Swaminathan didn’t use their expression for himself but brought them to the contemporary scenario. And showed the world the other side of the present practices of art.”
India is a large country and every state has a good number of tribal communities. The exhibition will focus on twenty tribal artists – Balu Jivya Mhase, D Venkatramana, Japani Shyam, Kamta Tahed, Krishnan, Lalremruata Varte, Minky Das, Mrimony Debbarma, Nandita Rabha, Phur Tshering Lepcha, Punyo Chobin, Rembrandt, Rinku Baiga, Ronra Shimray Sochihan, Sadashiv Mhase, Santosh Maravi, Sreejith KR, Sunita Bhil, Thirongkiuba Yimchungru and Vishwanatha G.
“I have focused on the north-east and southern part of our country. All eight states of NE and four from the south along with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar tribal artists are chosen for the show. Each artist is being represented by his/her two recent works”, says Akhilesh.
Generally, the tribals’ creative presence has been ignored by saying that their art is a community expression since it has been done by a group of people. Akhilesh finds this interpretation wrong. “What an artist does in his/her community as a ritual of some practices is usually done by one person and accepted by the entire community. We forget that be it Leonardo da Vinci or Aneesh Kapoor, many contemporary artists are working with assistance. They don’t do work themselves but their work has been accepted in their name”, he says.
“Tribals are individual creators of these works and we found the pure, primal, powerful expressive work with the most simple approach. Their works immediately grab your attention and they suck you in”, he adds.
Speaking about the tribal artists’ dedication to their work, Akhilesh states, “A tribal is working as an artist. He is painting with his beliefs. Whatever he does he believes. He and his subjects are one. There is no objectivity in the subject. His experience is the only expression of his beliefs. And this art of beliefs transfers easily to the viewer. He never seeks outside help to understand their works. The viewer is surprised by the approach and detachment, the joy and sorrow, with affection, reasoning and oracles. These elements can be seen and felt in their work.
These are human expressions not addressed to the other but to the self. You realise your ‘self’ is provoked. You enjoy and you feel at ease.”
Where: Triveni Kala Sangam
When: 2-10 July, 8 to 11 am
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