Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A neglected art form joins the mainstream

Indian tribal art is gradually entering the mainstream and getting more innovative thanks to a greater exposure and awareness of it. Frequent exhibitions with experimental works are elevating the status of tribal art that bear a timely testimony to the vibrant artistic tradition of the different tribal communities, as well as to their engrossing evolution and a greater exposure internationally.

Noted art expert and writer Kishore Singh, in one of his columns last year, while depicting tribal art as ‘the next big thing’, had observed: “Precious little has been done so far to position the talented tribal artists alongside their more illustrious ‘urban’ contemporaries (in terms of respectability and value), or create dialogue to bridge the condescension, which keeps apart one school of artist from the other. However, with international collectors now discreetly buying into this segment of the art market, things might change soon.” That indeed seems to be happening!

In a clear indication of the trend, gallerists and collectors not only in India but also abroad are striving to bring tribal art into the mainstream through a wide range of representative works that distill amazing artistic abilities of the indigenous Indian populations - The amazing adivasis or the talented tribals, whichever way you may refer to them, they only enhance India’s cultural diversity.

The indigenous populations and folk communities produce captivating creative works, which are as utilitarian as they are passionate and sacred. Despite their struggle for survival, these hardworking populations have kept alive their enchanting artistic streak. They have retained their identity even while being in constant touch with the dominant Indian population.

The J.D. Centre of Art in Orissa, a brainchild of veteran artist Jatin Das, strives to bring tribal, folk, classical as well as contemporary art practices together with scholars and philosophers, dancers and craftspeople, painters and sculptors. In essence, conscious efforts are being made to bring tribal art into the mainstream by presenting the most representative and authentic pieces that symbolize day-to-day, artistic and religious productions of these Indian populations.

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