The New York Times Globespotters blog ventures into the world of Rural art in India which has a status akin to folk art in the West. But how to label it? That’s the questions:
the exhibits raise an interesting debate: some resent the easy labeling of rural artists as” folk” or “tribal,” arguing that such categories pigeonhole artists and prevent them from getting the respect they deserve.
“We have to look beyond the tribal label,” said Khorshed Pundole of the Pundole Art Gallery, who has been collecting these artists along with her husband and co-owner Dadiba Pundole over the last five years, said. “Their concerns are the same as ours: global warming, pollution, the destruction of ecosystems.”
In recent years, contemporary non-metropolitan artists (the clumsy but preferred term for the artists formerly known as “folk”) have attracted interest at art fairs, though art critics say they are still immensely undervalued. A painting by Jangarh Singh Shyam sold for 2500 euros (about $3500) at a recent Paris auction, while a Bhuri Bai work sold at Sotheby’s for $5000.
The works do tend to draw on common images. At the Pundole show, the tree of life is a common motif. Playful turtles, crocodiles, herons, tigers, snakes and boars are stippled in brilliant colors and intricate patterns. Many paintings seem to be inspired by the clash between man and nature; others draw on traditional embroidery techniques and folk tales.
Rural Art Gets Respect at Two Mumbai Exhibits (Globespotters/New York Times)