The genesis of Warli art can be traced back to the state of Maharashtra, created by the tribals of North Sahyadri Range. In an attempt to preserve this art form and make it relevant to the current times is the exhibition, Of Aesthetics and the Vernacular – An Insight into Warli Art.
Presented by Arushi Arts Gallery and curated by Payal Kapoor, the art show presents a generation of painters. Kapoor claims that Warli paintings are older than rock paintings.
“It was a woman’s art, usually done on the walls of the hut. Over time, it has moved from the walls to the canvas. Unfortunately, it is also a diminishing art form as many Warlis are looking for jobs elsewhere with the growing urbanisation. I truly believe that we need to protect, conserve and preserve this art form,” says Kapoor.
The theme of this exhibition is centred on Mother Nature, evident in the Warli art emerging from the small town of Dahanu. “Here, the people are close to nature and animals. In a time of growing deforestation and climate change pushing flora and fauna towards extinction, Warli art becomes even more relevant to us.”
Traditionally, a paste from rice powder was used as paint, but now artists use acrylic paint to prolong the lifespan of the artwork. However, even today, cow dung is used to strengthen the canvas. “Artists have welcomed these changes with time as it is about their livelihood. Amit Mahadev Dhombare is the youngest artist exhibiting at the show. The 28-year-old is an experimentalist. He takes the techniques and classical forms of Warli and converts it to modernism. We want this art to be modern art.”
On display with Dhombare’s work, are works by the master of Warli art, Jivya Shome Mashe and his two children Balu Jivya Mashe and Sada Shiv Mashe, both in their 70s. Anil Chaitya Vangade, who is in his 50s, is also a participating artist. This showcases the progress of the art itself.
Kapoor is part of the committee that looks after the DK Jain Prize, an award she started in the memory of her father five years ago. Dhombare is the fifth recipient, and he will showcase his work in New York in February and in Los Angeles later. “Despite receiving awards and recognition, many artists are still struggling to make ends meet, and that’s why we take artists abroad and give them the much-needed exposure,” she concludes.
A new show traces the evolution of Warli art from its humble origins to global recognition and artists Who popularise the genre
When: Till February 12
Where: Arushi Arts Gallery, W 23, GK II