GADAG: The KH Patil Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences near Hulkoti, a quaint village in Gadag district, is a destination known for wellness of the body and mind. Lately, however, it has also emerged as a location that provides a different kind of ‘wellness’, one associated with the artistic soul.The place is a treasure trove of artwork and creativity, with connoisseurs from near and far thronging to catch a glimpse of Gond tribal art, which dot its walls and interiors.
The Gonds are an indigenous tribe who primarily call Madhya Pradesh home. The name ‘Gond’ is derived from the word ‘Konda’, meaning hill. They are an ancient people, with their paintings alone boasting a history of at least 1,400 years. Even today, the visualisation presented in their art is an imitation of cave paintings dating back to the Mesolithic Age.The Gond paintings are unique in several ways -- they depict animals, plants and scenes from daily life, which are rendered in a colourful, highly patterned style, comparable to aboriginal art.
The paintings offer glimpses of fish, crabs, peafowl, lions, tigers, deer, monkeys, horses and elephants, among other fauna, besides a common feature in most works -- a Mahua tree. They also present scenes of people involved in occupations and lifestyles from the days gone by, and the tribe’s connect with nature.
Adding life to walls
How these paintings from outside Karnataka found their way to the walls of a naturopathy institute in Gadag is an interesting tale.Around three months ago, Prof T V Kattimani, vice-chancellor of Central Tribal University of Andhra Pradesh, was on a morning walk with Dr SR Naganur, administrator of the centre, and Gadag MLA Dr HK Patil inside the campus, when he noticed its bare walls. He felt that if the walls had any art or colour on them, it would add more beauty, life and serenity to the place. He suggested embellishing the walls with Gond paintings and assigned an artist Pradeep Marave, who along with his family and three other artists, worked tirelessly for 30 days to execute the project.
“I had visited Hulkoti’s naturopathy and yogic sciences centre and expressed my idea of bringing Gond paintings here. I called Pradeep, an artist from Madhya Pradesh, and asked him if he could come over and create traditional Gond paintings on the campus. He agreed. People from across Karnataka already visit this naturopathy centre for healing and these paintings will now lend an additional dose of relaxation,” says Prof Kattimani.
Pointing at a work and elucidating the deep message that this intricate art conveys, Dr Naganur says, “Take, for instance, a painting of this deer holding a precious plant. It seems to be looking for food here and there. This means that we have everything with us, but still look elsewhere. These paintings never carry the signatures of the artist, while they express the relationship between humans and nature. One can experience a culture in its entirety by just walking through the campus and catching these meaningful works of art.”
Artist Marave said, “We hail from Dindori district’s Garakamatta village. My wife Dhaneshwari and daughter Priyanka are also artists. We have now undertaken a project at the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj University. Earlier, we used mud colours from MP, but are now using paints available at local markets. Our unique paintings have gradually gained popularity across the country and abroad.”
Art is an intrinsic part of Gond life and ethos, which has today gifted a natural and earthy vibe to the
It’s an art world
When one enters the premises of KH Patil Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, a sense of nature and art envelopes the person. Sculptures depicting Lord Dhanvantari, Sushruta Maharshi operating on a patient, and villagers having a meal, besides a wide variety of trees and creatively-built structures, provide the campus an ethereal feel. Then there are a host of medicinal plants too.