Let her tribe grow

Alisha Shinde
Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Punekars are in for a visual treat as Anuradha Thakur from Ahmednagar holds her painting exhibition capturing the essence of tribal life at Art2Day

A solo exhibition of paintings called Folk Roots by Anuradha Thakur is a visual treat for viewers. With the patterns of her black lines, earthen colours and variant shades of pure white, we embark on a trip of joy and optimism, discovering the culture of her characters.

An Ahmednagar resident, Thakur showcases Indian culture and traditions through her work. 

Thakur, who was fascinated by the paintings of tribal women by Amrita SherGil during her Fine Arts Diploma, began her interaction with tribals when she organised art workshops with the Gond tribe. She then worked with tribal/urban people near Aurangabad, and for Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) in the Gadchiroli area of Maharashtra. 

The interaction with tribal people gave her some valuable insights into their way of life and they became the subject of her work. Since then, Thakur has created several series of paintings based on tribals she met in the remote parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North-East India.

The artist says that her work portrays the essence of Indian morals that have been strongly rooted in our culture since the time unknown. “I studied Fine Arts in Pune and coming from a smaller town, I always felt slightly left out. But I never had the urge to indulge in the city way of life. So when I started working with an NGO that was closely associated with tribal people, I knew that people don’t need a fancy life to be happy, happiness is found in the simplest of things and events,” she says. 

She adds that her paintings depict the fine tapestry and culture of tribal communities from all over India. One thing that is common in the paintings is that they are scenes of celebration — a naming ceremony, a wedding and a bit of dance as well.

“The reason is that tribals get together only for occasions, otherwise they have a very tough life where they work and get back home only to rest. They spend most of their time in the forests, but they take their social gatherings very seriously. Hence, there is a lot of energy, colours, fun and laughter even with limited resources, which is something that really stayed with me,” explains Thakur. 

Colours of life 
“Having travelled the length and breadth of the county and spent some good quality time with the different tribes of India, I have absorbed the vibrant colours which I express on the canvas — some dull yet beautiful while a few others vibrant and striking,” points out Thakur.

Be it the colours of the clothes that the tribes wear or their jewellery, they are so different from each other, she adds. 
A striking feature of her paintings is that all the characters are painted in black. Thakur explains that for her, the colour stands for transparency. Says she, “The tribal life is so pure and transparent, I wanted to show that in every painting that I have painted. Black is a very strong colour and while many think of it as bad luck, i want to focus on the strength of the shade. It is pure, complete and does not compete with any other shade; it is happy with its own existence, just like the tribals.”

She also adds that along with black, she makes use of vibrant colours that make up for the jewellery and clothes that the tribes wear. So one sees a Rajasthani couple playing the traditional game of Chaupar or groups indulging in Bihu dance in Assam on her canvas. 

Her take on the tribals is very interesting. “What makes tribals stand out from the city people is the fact that they are so connected to their roots. They are not bothered with what is happening in the cities but have a sense of satisfaction and optimism, a trait that people in the cities lack,” Thakur says. 

ST Reader Service 
Folk Roots exhibition by Anuradha Thakur is being held at Art2Day gallery,  Bhandarkar Road, Pune till May 22 from 11.30 am - 7 pm

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