The folk art of India reflects its rich cultural diversity and plurality of art practices and design aesthetics. Expressed through poetry, painting, pottery, texture, dance forms, and metallurgy, folk art brings to the fore the distinct traditions, symbolic beliefs, and identity of the community that shaped it. Through these objects, the creators tell stories of their folklore and daily lives like tales from mythology in the complex geometrical patterns of Madhubani paintings, or a celebration of nature through the lush dotted technique in Bheel paintings and Gond illustrations. \n\nThis Gond rendition is a delight to the eyes with its colourful, fluid forms merging into each other effortlessly. The intricate painting depicts birds that symbolize freedom and are seen as a link between heaven and earth. The work comprises a variety of patterns and shapes coming together to form a single stunning whole, a visual so vivid that it immediately draws in the viewer. We see circles, dots, lines, cross-hatch interwoven flawlessly in an earthy palette of ochre, green, red, orange, amongst many others. The work, although semi-abstract in style, still showcases clearly the forms of the birds, their eyes and beaks visible clearly to us. The complex illustration is encased in a plain orange border, with the signature of the artist present at the bottom right corner of the work. \n\nThe acrylic on canvas is an example of how many of these centuries-old art traditions have reinvented themselves with contemporary times. As tribal and folk artists gather international acclaim and enter the world of high art, it is important to remember that many of these traditions face extinction and measures need to be taken to protect and promote these indigenous forms of knowledge and artistry.

Birds by Rita Shyam

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  • Rita Shyam , a Gond artist, belongs to a village near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. She began practicing art professionally in 2009, alongside farming in her village. Various subjects adorn her canvas, such as birds, animals and trees, each bringing out a unique story or message. Her works depicts her mastery over traditional patterns and techniques using highly vibrant colour palette. Moreover, they seek to represent the unexplored facets of her tribal culture and its rich heritage.

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