Painting exhibition in city portrays tribal life

Chennai: If you happen to visit the CP Art Center at Eldams Road in the next two days, you will find out how simple dots, lines and a smattering of colours could confluence and tell the story, history and lifestyle of a race.

The CP Art Centre has joined hands with TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited) to bring to Chennai the paintings of several tribal artists from Muria, Warli, Gond, Saora, Pithora, Bhil and Kurumba tribes across India. The painting are intricate with elementary geometric patterns coming together to form complex forms of animals, trees, birds or sometimes settings of a typical day at a tribal village.

Take for example, a painting of a Saora tribesman from Odisha at display here. The artwork on Tassar silk gives a brief outlook on the way of life of Saora tribesmen. The simple 20/40 inch canvas shows everything from how their lands are farmed, the food they eat, how their cattle is reared, the things they revere and even the musical instruments they play in the evening. The best part is the intricate art work is just priced under Rs 5,000.

Each tribe has their own unique way of painting. They use different canvases to paint on and their significance is contrasting. The Gond paintings (from Madhya Pradesh) for example has its genesis in home decor. So, you will find them very colourful. They smear mud paste on the floors, doors and walls of their tribal homes and paint motives with positive images of nature to ward off evil spirits. Interestingly, they still use only brush fashioned out of bamboo and colours made from mud having different hues that are uniquely found in and around their village.

The collection of world famous Warli painting from the Warli tribes that inhabit Thane and Nasik areas are also on display at the Art Centre and so are the painting by Kurumba from Niligiris in our State. Warli paintings today are highly popular as they are painted on an austere mud base using just one colour -White.

The tribal paintings served a purpose for the tribes before civilisation reached out to them as these drawings and figured was the only way these often non-lettered people could hand down their hereditary knowledge of not just folklore but also traditions, history and even science.

The Tribal Painting exhibition is open from 10 am to 6 pm till 27 January. It is not to be missed by lovers of art, culture and history. The venue is Shakunthala Art Gallery, CP Art Centre, 1, Eldams Road, Alwarpet.

A Harsha Vardhan