Is there any future for traditional paintings?

With the digital age and rapid growth of technology, media and entertainment forms, we are forgetting our traditional painting, art and culture. But still there are few communities, who are keeping the traditional art alive. There is a great painter who said “I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”

This line is totally apt to describe the dedication toward painting of Ganjad warli painters. We went to Ganjad (Devgaon) village in Maharashtra to know about the traditional painting and lifestyle of the tribal people of Ganjad village and just we wanted to spend some time in the world without technology, simple, fresh atmosphere with nature. A question arose in me, can we live without technology? As we reached Ganjad we went in Devgaon village, as soon as we stepped into the village we felt we came into another world in a different environment. And hardly anyone was using a mobile phone too! Houses were different, traditions were different. There was no cemented house, houses were built by mud, cow-dung, woods the raw materials from nature.

The Ganjads believe in conserving the nature. Their honesty was the best part. Very kind hearted. Their core passion – Warli painting hardly required any technology. I was mesmerized to see them making use of cow dung, rice paste and white paint for painting. That painting was so realistic and natural without any chemicals in use. The best part was in every painting there was some message which others could be benefited from. I felt there is a way to educate people in every work you do.
I was wondering to see their musical instrument which they made themselves. They did traditional dance called Tarpa and sang traditional song that music shows the bonding between humans and nature also the kind relationship among them. We were experiencing a different world. They find joy and happiness in simple things and nature. We stayed there at Anil Vangad house who is also a warli painter. He explained to us the culture and the hidden story behind these paintings. He showed me his painting as well. We met a Padmashree awardee Mr. Jivya Soma Mahashe at ganjad.

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Ganjad tribal who are keeping the Indian art alive.

Warli art makes us think of finding joy in simple things, tradition, nature love and of being environmentally conscious. The People of Ganjad (Devgaon) live very simple lives. They believe in preserving nature, they depend on nature for food and everything, they never disturb nature or taking bare minimum needed from nature. They are very satisfied people. They believe in harmony between nature and the humans and their beliefs are often reflected in their painting. In every painting of warli there is some hidden story. It would be interesting to note that there aren’t any straight lines used in their paintings. They are usually crooked lines, dots, circles and triangles. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe, essentially ritualistic, In ancient age their paintings were usually made by married women to celebrate a wedding. Though a lot of these paintings are based on rituals associated with fertility and prosperity, there’s always a touch of realism in them. The paintings were also used to decorate the huts of ganjad tribes, usually made from a mixture of cow dung, rice paste and red mud. Interestingly, the main motive of those paintings are scenes of hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals. Apart from ritualistic paintings, other warli paintings cover day-to- day activities of the village folks.

One of the important aspects of most Warli paintings is the “Tarpa dance” – the tarpa is a trumpet-like instrument, which is played in turns by different men. While the music plays, men and women join their hands and move in circles around the tarpa players. This circle of the dancers is also symbolic of the circle of life. It was a blessing to watch the dancing. It was different world for us which we never wanted to leave and come back. Many of us might wonder why the fuss about an art form that restricts itself to two colors. But this traditional simplicity is what makes their art stand out from the clutter. The most pleasant part to hear was Foreigners adopting Indian painting! I just went Wow. Japanese artists adopted the Ganjad village to keep the art form alive. This group of social artists from Japan have also been constructing huts from cow dung, mud and bamboo sticks to promote painting on the walls.

tarba dance

How technology is helping ganjad village to expose their art?

The ganjad people who are well talented and innovative are using technologies like WhatsApp, Facebook and different social media site to market their painting. They have also found their way to do good international business while sitting at home. They are selling their paintings in India as well as in abroad in countries like Japan, France, Germany etc. Traditionally, this painting is done on a red ochre background with rice paste or white paint and these are the only two colors used. But, today, a variety of colors are being used to replicate these artistic motifs on fabrics, home décor or other artistic forms. To me that’s brilliant use of minimal resources, to create magical art.

The lifestyle sector is the one that is most fascinated by its richness. From brightly colored umbrellas to coffee mugs and tea cups, rustic wall clocks, accents for walls and stationery. Now warli is pretty much everywhere. And it doesn’t stop here. The art of Warli is every Indian fashion designer’s new darling. From adorning the borders of colorful scarves and Kurtis to embellishing the luxurious jute and silk sarees, Warli has taken over the ramp for good. All the inventions are around us. It’s just how we make use of it. After all the interactions with Ganjad people and after understanding their emotions behind the painting and culture a thought arose in my mind What is the future of the artist in a digital interactive age? After turning back to my workplace, I was pleased to show all the paintings, pics and videos to my colleagues and question to them that which painting you prefer more traditional or painting of the digital era? Below are few of the thoughts.

Ganga singh:- In my opinion before, painters had good imagination power so they paint their imagination onto a drawing paper. Now a days painters use imagination power plus simulated graphic and so sometimes it’s difficult to understand that what painter want to express through their painting but earlier people could easily understand that what message painters what to picturize.

Abhijith HK:- I personally like traditional manual paintings, as the artist will complete the painting using their imagination, the power of which can’t be matched by a machine.

Pruthviraj karur S:- I like the latest paintings, earlier we didn’t have much to offer to the clients now it’s all automated. People have more and more options now to choose and to decorate their home.

Shikha Dwivedi :- I prefer traditional painting because traditional paintings basically represents our spans of culture, heritage, rivers etc. with very strong meanings.

Abhigit M :- I think if we try to blend the old painting with 3D model which is eco friendly then it will be better.

What is the future of the artist in a digital interactive age?
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– Shweta Pathak