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LOT 3

Untitled

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Acrylic on canvas
2000
56 × 35 1/8 in. (142.1 × 89.2 cm.)

Signed in Devanagari and dated ‘2000’ lower left

The flagbearer of Pardhan-Gond art, Jangarh Singh Shyam grew up in Patangarh, Madhya Pradesh. Faced with abject poverty, Shyam quit school and began working as a farmer at a very young age. In 1981, while decorating the walls of huts in Patangarh with traditional motifs, Shyam was approached by young research students from Bharat Bhavan, a multi-platform art museum in Bhopal. ‘Impressed as they were by his extraordinary talent, they invited him to Bhopal. Since then, he regularly attended the artists’ camps organised by Rupankar, and was eventually given a place in its Graphics Workshop.’ (Mushtaq Khan, translated by Sarla Jagmohan from Hindi, ‘Jangarh Singh: The Tribal Eye’, Art Heritage 10, New Delhi, 1990-91, p. 3) Jagdish Swaminathan, the founder of the Museum, had sent these scouts to discover innovative young talent from rural areas. This encounter led Shyam to meet and develop a close relationship with Swaminathan, who showcased his artworks at Bharat Bhavan’s inaugural exhibition in February 1982. Through his artistry, Jangarh Singh Shyam has formed a type of pictorial narrative that has developed into a movement and helped pave the way for a new school of Indian art, now referred to as ‘Jangarh Kalam’.

While forging his own artistic language, Shyam fused Pardhan-Gond traditions with a contemporary flair. Drawing from his cultural heritage, he included the mystical Gond folklore as well as the vibrant bio-diversity of Madhya Pradesh’s forests. The present lot brings together the flora, fauna, and avifauna of the region together in a most unusual composition. Snakes, fish and tortoise float in perfect harmony, while a bird is seen perched atop the claw of a displeased crab.

In this quasi-pointillist depiction, Shyam superimposes dotted, scallop-like patterns onto flat colour planes, the placement of which echoes the rhythmic vibrations of Pardhan music. Deliberately left blank, the background contrasts with the vibrantly rendered subjects and is balanced out by the negative space in the white of the various creatures eyes. Snakes and other reptiles including crocodiles and lizards appear frequently in Shyam’s works. ‘The serpent, or snake, has always been an important mythological symbol in cultures around the world. For most tribes in India, the snake represents rebirth, death and mortality. In the Gond tribe, snakes are also believed to possess treasures of the unknown world and are, perhaps, the most feared reptiles in all living beings,’ (Dr. Alka Pande, Jangarh Singh Shyam, From Mud Walls to Paper and Canvas, Noida, 2021, p. 36) while the ‘tortoise is a totem of the Gond clan and is hence considered sacred.’ (ibid., p. 60)
Condition: The colours of the original are similar to the catalogue illustration. Scattered creases visible to the canvas probably due to previous folding, especially visible to the left of the crab and along the bottom edge. Some background dirt visible in the upper half. Overall good condition.

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25 Apr 2024
India, Mumbai
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[ translate ]

Acrylic on canvas
2000
56 × 35 1/8 in. (142.1 × 89.2 cm.)

Signed in Devanagari and dated ‘2000’ lower left

The flagbearer of Pardhan-Gond art, Jangarh Singh Shyam grew up in Patangarh, Madhya Pradesh. Faced with abject poverty, Shyam quit school and began working as a farmer at a very young age. In 1981, while decorating the walls of huts in Patangarh with traditional motifs, Shyam was approached by young research students from Bharat Bhavan, a multi-platform art museum in Bhopal. ‘Impressed as they were by his extraordinary talent, they invited him to Bhopal. Since then, he regularly attended the artists’ camps organised by Rupankar, and was eventually given a place in its Graphics Workshop.’ (Mushtaq Khan, translated by Sarla Jagmohan from Hindi, ‘Jangarh Singh: The Tribal Eye’, Art Heritage 10, New Delhi, 1990-91, p. 3) Jagdish Swaminathan, the founder of the Museum, had sent these scouts to discover innovative young talent from rural areas. This encounter led Shyam to meet and develop a close relationship with Swaminathan, who showcased his artworks at Bharat Bhavan’s inaugural exhibition in February 1982. Through his artistry, Jangarh Singh Shyam has formed a type of pictorial narrative that has developed into a movement and helped pave the way for a new school of Indian art, now referred to as ‘Jangarh Kalam’.

While forging his own artistic language, Shyam fused Pardhan-Gond traditions with a contemporary flair. Drawing from his cultural heritage, he included the mystical Gond folklore as well as the vibrant bio-diversity of Madhya Pradesh’s forests. The present lot brings together the flora, fauna, and avifauna of the region together in a most unusual composition. Snakes, fish and tortoise float in perfect harmony, while a bird is seen perched atop the claw of a displeased crab.

In this quasi-pointillist depiction, Shyam superimposes dotted, scallop-like patterns onto flat colour planes, the placement of which echoes the rhythmic vibrations of Pardhan music. Deliberately left blank, the background contrasts with the vibrantly rendered subjects and is balanced out by the negative space in the white of the various creatures eyes. Snakes and other reptiles including crocodiles and lizards appear frequently in Shyam’s works. ‘The serpent, or snake, has always been an important mythological symbol in cultures around the world. For most tribes in India, the snake represents rebirth, death and mortality. In the Gond tribe, snakes are also believed to possess treasures of the unknown world and are, perhaps, the most feared reptiles in all living beings,’ (Dr. Alka Pande, Jangarh Singh Shyam, From Mud Walls to Paper and Canvas, Noida, 2021, p. 36) while the ‘tortoise is a totem of the Gond clan and is hence considered sacred.’ (ibid., p. 60)
Condition: The colours of the original are similar to the catalogue illustration. Scattered creases visible to the canvas probably due to previous folding, especially visible to the left of the crab and along the bottom edge. Some background dirt visible in the upper half. Overall good condition.

[ translate ]
Sale price
Unlock
Estimate
Unlock
Reserve
Unlock
Time, Location
25 Apr 2024
India, Mumbai
Auction House
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