Millennium Post

Tribal art with modern twist!

Tribal art with  modern twist!
Jangarh Singh Shyam was one of the most celebrated folk artists of our country. He showed his works at the prestigious Magicians of the Earth exhibition at Pompidou Centre in Paris alongside leading Western artists such as Francesco Clemente. To honour the memory of this talented tribal artist, Capital based Gallerie Ganesha is hosting a show of his works along with those of Jangarh Singh Shyam’s daughter Japani Shyam in a two-person show titled Tribal Tales at Greater Kailash II, 
from December 18. The show will go on till January 20. The show includes twenty works.

Shyam painted the interiors of the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha and the dome at Bhopal’s Bharat Bhavan, one of the most prestigious museums of tribal and contemporary Indian art. Even after his tragic death in Tokyo, Japan at the age of 39, the young artist went on to leave a permanent impression in the minds of the discerning art audience. 

Jangarh Singh Shyam, born in 1962, belonged to the Gond tribe of Madhya Pradesh. As a boy who lived in the jungles of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, he was discovered by the legendary J. 

Swaminathan, who brought him to Roopankar Museum in Bhopal and introduced him to the modernist mainstream. Shyam not only made the difficult transition from tribal to urban life-style but gained almost instant recognition.

With the intent to build a collection of tribal art in Bhopal, an Indian collective led by J. Swaminathan began a study tour in the 80’s. During their visit in the Mandla District, the painted walls of a house held their attention. The creator of these paintings was Jangarh Singh Shyam, who was then a teenager blessed with an outstanding pictorial style. It was a turning point in Shyam’s artistic life.

Jangarh Singh Shyam, only 17 at the time, adapted the traditional Gond style of painting into a unique amalgam of traditional and modern imagery (gods, animals as well as aeroplanes found place in his paintings). He made the transition from painting on walls to paper quite effortlessly. 

In a short span of time, the talented artist formed the new visual idiom, a legacy now being carried forward by his family. He pioneered a visual vocabulary replete with fascinating figures, intricate patterns and vibrant colours.

In the meanwhile, back in his village, more artists have begun to paint in adaptations of his style, which has come to be recognised as the Gond style of painting. More significantly, his wife and son also began painting in styles similar to his. In fact, Jangarh Singh Shyam named his daughter Japani after his visit to Japan which was one of his favourite countries.

Born in 1988, Japani started painting at a very early age and she says her father would always encourage her to paint the way she wanted and never criticized her work. She feels that is the reason why she began to paint with confidence and in 1999. At the age of eleven, she was given the Kamala Devi Award.
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