Adivasi Artists' Workshops

The Adivasi Academy has carried out a massive documentation of Adivasi artistic traditions in visual forms. With the purpose of revitalizing existing practices, the Adivasi Academy regularly holds interactive Workshops with Adivasi Artists at its Lakhara Studio.

Bhasha Centre held in collaboration with the Lalit Kala Akademi a series of workshops in February and March 2014, inviting 72 artists from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha.

Bhasha Centre received and encouraging response from the artists. To create an institutional platform and to bring together Adivasi artists, the Adivasi Academy collaborated with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Vadodara and organised two National Workshops in September and December 2016.

During the ten day workshops, artists were invited from Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Rizwanbhai Khatri, one of the very few practitioners of Rogan art, joined from Kutch. Traditionally practiced by the Khatri community, Rogan art is now a rare art form practiced by only two families in Kutch. From Chhotaudepur there was participation of Balubhai Rathwa who makes sculptures, Radtiyabhai Hatubhai Dhanak and Chandubhai Chamaidabhai Dhanak from Ambala village who make traditional pottery, Jankiben Parsing Rathwa who makes bead jewellery, Mojabhai Latubhai Rathwa from Akkalbara who works with bamboo, Chatur Alsing Rathava who practices wood art and Nandu Kutar Rathava who is a stone sculptor.

There were three Kotwalia artists, Shailesh, Nitesh and Ravibhai, all belonging to the Kotwalia community and specializing in bamboo craft.

Chetan Parshuram Gangavane, Supriya Chetan Gangavane, Pravin Ashok Gangavane, Pramod Tulsidas Masge and Vishal Bharat Kotwale, artists joined from the Thakar Adivasi Kala Angan (Museum and Art Gallery) set up by the Thakar community in Pinguli village in southern Maharashtra. The group specializes in the Chitrakathi (story telling through paintings) and leather puppetry. Traditionally, the painting was accompanied with performance from episodes from the Ramayana in local temples on certain occasions. However, this practice has now largely been discontinued. This community museum is working for the conservation and promotion of eleven different community arts and performative practices as Chitrakathi, leather puppetry, Kalsutri Bahulya (String marionette), Pangul Bael, a ritual form of theatre around the figure of the sacred bull of Lord Shiva, Gondhal and Dona geet or song.

Two terracotta artists joined from Shyamota village in Rajasthan. Shambhu Lohar and Kamlesh Prajapati make decorative terracotta items. They could interact well with the local pottery artists. While the terracotta works of the Shyamota artists seems to have commercialized and caters to market tastes, the Chhotaudepur tribal pottery continues to be made in the traditional mode.

Kurumba artists, L. Balasubramani and Kaneshan Mahendra joined from Tamil Nadu. They are painters of the traditional Kurumba painting which is quite similar to the Warli style.

The workshop had four artists from Jharkhand. Avani Bhushan specializes in Sohrai painting, Jyoti Panna does the Khobar form, Sanjay Kumar Lal does Godna painting and Anil Chitrakar, a very acclaimed and senior art practitioner is a master of Paitkar painting. These forms bring to life the Adivasi festivals, rituals, relationships with the natural worlds and their beliefs and community life.

The Saathi Samaj Sevi Sanstha deputed four artists from Chhatisgarh who practice metal craft, metal work, terracotta, bamboo and woodwork. They keep more to their traditional forms of art though they have begun to mould their forms to make decorative and utility items. Rambilas does iron craft, Suresh Bagel does metal work, Sukalu Ram’s expertise lies in terracotta and Mukund Ram makes and bamboo and wood art.

In order to see how Adivasi artists are adapting modernity to their traditional forms of art practices, we invited Prasenjit Mandi and Gobindo Murmu. While Prasenjit has completed his Masters in Fine Arts and is a painter, Gobindo, a sculptor, is presently pursuing his Masters at Santiniketan. They blend traditional themes in a modern framework.

Jogi Sabar, the sole artist from Odisha who participated in the workshop, practices the Saora form of painting.