Contemporized tribal art at United Art Fair

Six months ago Delhi Crafts Council was approached by Peter Nagy, a Delhi-based gallery owner, to create a collection of traditional tribal and folk art for the United Art Fair in Delhi. They worked with eight artisans to create over fifty pieces especially for the United Art Fair and were thrilled to see their works displayed alongside various Indian and International contemporary artists. The Council supported these craftsmen with material, equipment, financial assistance and even space to create their artworks.The artists and crafts council have both experimented with new styles and formats to re-interpret traditional techniques for this collection. 

“We are exhibiting the works of eight craftsmen in the United Art Fair at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, on 14th-17th September, 2013. We have worked extensively with the artists to develop a carefully curated collection of traditional art and crafts. We are always searching for additional platforms to promote our craftsmen and we hope this art fair will open new markets for them” says Pratiksha Somaia, General Secretary – Delhi Crafts Council

Soni Jogi is from Ahemdabad, Gujrat. She is a self taught artist of her unique style of dot painting, inspired by her parents -in-law, Ganesh and Teju Jogi. Her childhood was spent in the hills of Mount Abu, Rajasthan. Originally Soni started with ink on paper and then experimented with other mediums like acrylic. The real art is in using single grass reed with cotton wool wrapped on the tip to make uniform dots conjuring up contemporary tribal animal drawings. In May 2013, she participated in a workshop with Delhi Crafts Council, where she developed her style on large canvases creating visually stunning paintings.

Kailash Chadra Meher is from Bolangir, Odisha. He received a Diploma in Fine Arts from the Visava-Bharti University, Shantiniketan in West Bengal. Was  initially trained by his father in the art of Paat painting and subsequently under guidance of Bhagwat Maharana. Now Kailash is the principal of the Indian Arts and Crafts Academy for Women in Bolangir, Odisha. He has received a UNESCO Excellence Award and a National Award for his painting skills. Earlier this year he was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri Award from the Government of India. Paat painting is a traditional art form originating in Odisha which usually depicts religious themes.

Hira Kanth hails from Madhubani, Bihar but is currently residing in Delhi. She completed high school in Rathi, Bihar and trained in the art of Madhubani painting under the guidance of Padma Shri Mahasundri Devi. Her family is full of female artists and has been painting since the age of five. Traditionally only the women in this district were trained in the art of Madhubani painting. She prepares the handmade paper base for her paintings with natural products. The vibrant colours are made by heating coloured pigment with jaggery and gum to create a texture that allows her to work with intricate detail. Kanth uses a special nib to achieve the elaborate detail seen in her artistic Madhubani style.

Chakradhar Lal is a Bihari now settled in New Delhi. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the Tirhut College in Muzaffarpur in Bihar. The man learnt the art of Madhubani painting under the guidance of his mother. He has developed and experimented with the traditional art of Madhubani painting to create large papier-mâché board games that are usually make in a smaller forms. In his home studio he prepares the base for his artwork with paper pulp and gum, which is naturally dried in the sun and then intricately painted upon using fabric colours. Notice the borders, they are traditional Madhubani motifs and designs.

I have only talked about the ones I liked amongst the eight, but there are others also who tried to bring out the uniqueness of Indian designs with a contemporary take e.g. Ambika Devi and Chandrabushan Kumar through Mithila Drawing, Raju Kalbelia’s embroidery on Malkha Khadi and Nirmala Marandi with Kathwa applique and embroidery. During times of economic recession this art’s prices are best suited for the urban palette and pocket varying neatly between Rs.5000-30,000; as they are becoming investment worthy slowly and steadily because of it’s authenticity and novelty from award winning rural artists.  If you yet haven’t been to view United Art Fair, 17th September, today is the last day of the exhibition.

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