Venkat Raman Singh Shyam (CV)
Venkat Raman Singh Shyam (b.1970) belongs to the tradition of Pardhan Gond art made popular by his uncle, Jangarh Singh Shyam. After apprenticing with Jangarh in the 1990s, Venkat worked a range of jobs—including as house painter, screen printer and signboard artist. He also was fortunate to be guided by the pioneering Jagdish Swaminathan.
While continuing to harness the Pardhan Gond method of pointillistic detailing established by Jangarh, Venkat also has honed the ability to draw figures that aspire to realism. In him, the contemporary global world and the demands it makes have learnt to cohabit with a sensibility that invokes a primitivism that is at once modern, yet reminiscent of the past. He remembers myths and legends that are being forgotten by our obsession with social media, and, through his art, reminds us that the world has barely changed, that time is not linear, that art can still produce magic.
Speaking of how he came to art and art came to him, Venkat says: ‘When I was a year old, I did not know what I was seeing. And when I was five- years-old I still did not know what I was seeing. But when I was seven-years-old, I noticed something from our tradition for the first time—I saw that men and women painting auspicious designs on the ground and walls laced with fresh mud paste and cow dung. This is called Digna and Chauka. This is where Pardhan Gond art begins. This is where my journey begins.’
Through this journey, he’s exhibited in several countries across the globe, written a book, worked on a film and picked up awards that recognise his talent. I applaud his vision and perseverance to keep alive his traditions through art that appeals to the modern eye.