Tribal artwork of Madya Pradesh
The Gond are a large tribal group mostly located in the central Indian state of Madya Pradesh. They decorate the walls of their houses with images of the world as they see it, with the belief that a good image produces good fortune. One of the wonderful aspects of Gond drawings and paintings is that nature seems to be in harmony, plants, trees, birds, insects and even humans appear to easily cohabit the same space.
Traditionally a mother taught her daughter how to create these paintings and they would have used locally made mineral and plant colours. Like other Indian tribal artists they now also paint and draw on paper and canvas and their best work has been exhibited in international galleries. Over the last 50 years the Gond have taken to using vivid poster paints and some of the artists are now male.
Their drawings and paintings are mostly concerned with nature and the mythical stories and the spirits of the world that underpin their culture. They contain people, animals and birds, trees and plants and a common element seems to be the interweaving of these elements of life. People can become trees, animals can be half snake-half bird. There is a soft curvaceous style to all the figures as if one form can morph into another at any moment.
There is no perspective in Gond paintings. The background is usually plain but the physical forms, the people, plants and animals, are filled out with a huge variety of finely drawn textures composed of dots, circles, hatches and lines that bear a resemblance to the Aboriginal art of Australia.
It sometimes seems almost impossible to work out what’s going on in Gond paintings, in one of these drawings two women seem to be breaking out of eggs inside a bird while paddling with poles that have the eyes of snakes.