The Gond’s are one of the oldest, and largest tribal communities of India. The Pardhans, a sub-group of the tribe, are the ones credited with nurturing and maintaining their artistic traditions. Their rare artwork reflects the belief that everything in the natural world is inhabited by Spirit, and hence, is sacred. Their work often reflects their close connect with nature and they also paint images from myths and legends, or ordinary scenes from daily life in their rural villages.
Originally painted on the walls and floors of their homes for Puja’s, or festivals, the women of the community drew motifs using a limited colour palette derived from local charcoal, plant sap, yellow mud, leaves and cow dung. The most vivid was a red, derived from the hibiscus flower.
Modern day artists have innovated these motifs as they have been influenced by the work of other contemporary artists, urban life, and foreign travel. The ‘father’ of Gond art as we know it was Jangarh Shyam, a resident student and artist at Bharat Bhawan in Bhopal. Of the artists who have continued in his style and further popularised the art form, many are his relatives. Their practice is termed ‘Jangarh kalam’ (the style of Jangarh). They use acrylic paints and ink on paper and canvas. However, they have stayed with the distinguishable use of lines; perfectly drawn curved lines, dots and dashes that give a sense of movement and depth to the paintings. They are striking, thought-provoking and urge the onlooker to think about their own connect with Spirit.