Friday, February 15, 2013

A spotlight on Jangarh Singh Shyam

An expert exponent of the traditional form of painting styles is getting the recognition and appreciation he deserves not only in India but also internationally. We are here referring to Jangarh Singh Shyam, rightfully credited for initiating the process of globalization as far Indian tribal art is concerned.

He elegantly transformed his tribe’s oral tradition to captivating paper and canvas works. A recent show of Gond art at New Delhi based Art Alive Gallery was aptly titled after him. It brought together four highly talented Gond artists, namely Durga Bai Vyam, Bhajju Shyam, Mayank Shyam and of course, Ram Singh Urveti. Seeing their works was like entering a world far removed from ours.

In fact, many new tribal art stars on the horizon of contemporary Indian art like Ram Singh Urveti imbibed and honed artistic skills under Jangarh Singh Shyam who has played a prime role in rising interest in India’s exquisite and rich tribal art form not only within the country but also among art aficionadas globally.

Belonging to a tribe from the state of Madhya Pradesh, Jangarh Singh Shyam was a protégé of Bharat Bhavan founder and prominent artist J Swaminathan. In a short span of life, the talented artist formed the new visual idiom, a legacy now being carried forward by his family. The enriching visual representation with the fascinating figures, intricate patterns and vibrant colors was pioneered by him over two decades back, before he died in 2001 under tragic circumstances at the remote Mithila Museum just outside Tokyo.

It was unfortunate though, that he was deprived of any tangible material gains during his lifetime as was the case with many other tribal artists. His works did not fetch more than a few thousands rupees in spite of the fact that seasoned collectors in different countries expressed amazement over his natural talent.

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