Gond Paintings

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  2. 2. The Gondi (Gndi) or Gond people are a Dravidian people in central India, spread over the states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra(Vidarbha), Chhattisgarh, northern Andhra Pradesh and Western Odisha (majhi or gan community). With over four million people, they are the largest tribe in Central India. They are a heterogeneous group spreading over large areas from the Godavari gorges in the south to the Vindhya Mountains in the north. In Madhya Pradesh, they inhabited the dense forests of the Vindhyas, Satpura and Mandla in the Narmada region of the Amarkantak range for centuries. They are a designated Scheduled Tribe in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal. The word Gond comes from Kond, which means green mountains in the dravidian idiom. The Gond called themselves Koi or Koiture, but others called them Gond since they lived in the green mountains.The Gondi language is related to Telugu and other Dravidian languages. About half of Gonds speak Gondi languages while the rest speak Indo-Aryan languages including Hindi. Gond Paintings The Gond tribal community is one of the central India's largest indigenous communities and their art is an expression of their everyday quest for life. The Gond art rendezvous with the belief that "viewing a good image begets good luck". Owning to this belief, they traditionally painted their homes mud walls and floors during festivities and marriages using colored muds. Initially, they used to do it as a decorative and symbolic art which could fight off evil and invite optimism during festivals called Dighna. Dighna celebrated occasions of Gond tribals lives. Beginning in the early part of 80s of the last century, some artistic Pardhan Gonds who were traditionally and professionally bardic priests changed their ceremony performing arts to narrative and figurative visual art. For this, they employed various modern media and created exceptional representation of their traditional songs, oral histories and mythological and natural worlds. The media they used included drawings in ink on paper, animated film, painting on canvas with acrylic and silkscreen prints.
  3. 3. The first Gond artist to employ canvas and paper for his artworks was Jangarh Singh Shyam. Beginning with painting the traditional way, he switched to different creativity mediums. His lifes mission was to train the Patangarh (a Madhya Pradesh village) residents in this art form. He rose to fame which his exhibitions in Tokyo and Paris mark with great acclaim. With the course of time Gond art has switched onto canvas and paper by talented artists. Style Gond paintings materialize like a collage of dashes and dots. The collage combines into bright images of animals and plants, articulating folklores. The art is in black and white as well as colored variety. These pieces of creativity are affluent in color, humor, detail and mystery. They are brilliant in using modern means for evoking the psyche which is pre-modern. Gond artworks have not only gone through theme-experimentation but have also made medium go through innovations. The Gond paintings nuances dont begin and end with patterning. Brilliant hues express souls language. Signature styles form essence. They are employed intrinsically for filling the ornamental motifs and patterns of the surface. Such signature styles define individualism and allusiveness of every Gond artist. Subjects Gond art resonates with a culturally distinctive ethos and draws inspiration from myths and legends to images of daily life, as well as it reckons with surreality of emotions, dreams, andimagination. The mythical beasts and the intricate detailing of flora and fauna are the dominant themes that have animated the lives of the Gonds for centuries and their art is used as means to record history.
  4. 4. Colors, Tools and Techniques Colors are derived from natural sources. For instance, black from local soils, white from rock calcium and yellow from Narmada River banks. As mediums, charcoal and lime are used that form several ornamental paintings, when it comes to painting homes, particularly. An outline commences the art which is filled using block colors. When it dries, elaborate patterning is done. It imparts three-dimensional effect to the designs. Gond Artpieces A number of Gond artpieces are widely laudable. Tree of Life is one of them. It shows the tree rising from deer horns. It represents accord in existence and interdependence among living beings. As a harmonious symbol, it brings good luck and peace. Durga Bais creations illustrate a movement and vitality within. Her narratives are hued intensely and talk about deities and folk tales. Gond art has enthralled the global art market. It has carved a niche for itself through its exceptional moods and tones of compelling and vibrant patterns. With such international exposure, lives of the tribal artists have transformed. They are encouraged to rise above cultural fences and dip the idiom of the universe in paints according to a special way of their own. Gond paintings have stepped in the contemporary scenario. You can easily spot them on mouse-pads, key-chains, pen stands and mugs. So, when you visit a store next time, you may not resist the temptation to buy a cool tee embellished with Gond motifs to team up with your favorite jeans. Sample Gond Paintings We have taken up paintings that are representative of works of Gond artists. The first one is for depicting an abstract or metaphorical concept. The second tells a popular folktale or two lovers estranged by caste differences and finally united by Gods.
  5. 5. 1. Gond Tribal Painting of Elephant Description This is an artwork by the Gond painter Dilip Shyam.He works for daily wages at the Museum of Mankind in Bhopal, where his paintings adorn one of the walls. In this painting, we see what looks liketwo elephants.They appear to be covered with feathers.The colors are very intense, especially the blue and the red. There is a strong contrast between light and dark, and overall, the lines are very well defined. Analysis We now analyze the image in the semiotic plane. The elephant signify pride and royal entities. The pair of elephants stand for bonding and love. The peacock feathers, analogous to crown, signify the pride in this beauty and love.
  6. 6. There are a lot of colours that add to the overall richness of the portrait signifying joy and happiness. The texture for trunks and legs is different than others. This imparts a sense of depth in the portrait. The texture of feathers enhances the colour and makes itshinier. They also impart them velvety sense. All the colours evenly distributedthroughout the artwork. This accounts for even distribution of weight in the painting. Had this been not the case, our eyes would have lingered on a particular area more than others. In this case, the paintings composition is balanced. Also, the feathers appear to be abnormally large. We do not have a concrete sense of scale or proportion. Interpretation We now delve into the iconic plane. The elephants are placed very close together to strengthen the feeling of affection. The legs of the elephant cant be differentiated as to which leg belongs to which elephant, this intensifies the feeling of love and affection. The trunks of the elephants meet each other, further strengthening this mutual affinity. Further, the number of legs isnt eight, as it should be. There could be two reasons. First, the two legs could be on the other side of the portrait. Since the Gonds dont make 3D paintings, it can be inferred that the artist purposefully made two legs short. This aberration is to add to the concept of bonding discussed above. In some way, the idea of two discrete elephants is lost. They are like two souls living in a single body. The Elephant is a status symbol and this Gond painting does it justice. Elephants are highly regarded everywhere but more especially so in India and among the Gonds. This painting represents two elephants, one bigger than the other. This could mean an elder - younger relationship or a husband- wife relationship. The implied wealth of the figures is, however, more important than their exact identities. At the thematic level, elephants being big and strong symbolize wealth, power, wisdom, gentleness and authority. This painting describes all these with its lively color and its texture. Add to these, the peacock wings drawn on the elephants and the attribute of pride in
  7. 7. one's beauty is also represented. Gonds are found of including the imagery of birds into the paintings of other animals. The artist wanted to depict both love and royalty in this painting. 2. The Marriage of Desire and Intoxication Description This painting is hand drawn on black paper, made by Ram Singh Urveti,a traditional Gond painter. This painting is based on a Gond folktale. The folktale is as follows: There were two lovers who could not marry because they came from different castes, refusing to be separated they went deep into the jungle and took their lives. They were reborn as plants on the
  8. 8. same spots where they died. Seeing the beauty of their love bhagwanShankar, the creator named them Ganja(cannabis) and Mahua(alcohol). Analysis We analyze the semiotic plane of the image. At the base of the tree, the artist has depicted two creatures that are not truly animals or truly human beings. This is because it represents the transitional phase. They are also laden with jewelry, reminiscent of their human past. There are gazing into each other eyes, which remind us of the love between the pair. The two plants are connected by a bond in the middle, which again strengthens the concept of love. It seems a