Painted Songs & Stories: Contemporary Pardhan Gond Art from India
Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College
April 7 – June 6, 2010

The first American exhibit celebrating contemporary Pardhan Gond art from India, Painted Songs & Stories, will be on view at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College from April 7 through June 6, 2010.  An opening reception will be held on April 7, from 5-7pm.   An illustrated catalogue will be available.

Painted Songs & Stories features the works of eight contemporary artists belonging to a tribal clan of central India, the Pardhan Gonds, who traditionally served as professional bardic priests.  Starting in the early 1980s, certain talented Pardhan Gonds (Jangarh Singh Shyam and his successors) began transforming their ritual performing arts into a new tradition of figurative and narrative visual art.  Using a variety of media (including acrylic paintings on canvas, ink drawings on paper, silkscreen prints, and animated film) they have created unprecedented depictions of their natural and mythological worlds, traditional songs and oral histories, thus inventing a new, hybrid visual art combining tribal subject matter with modern media and non-tribal patronage.

Filled with wonder, adventure, and directness of expression, these delightful visual narratives will appeal to children and adults alike. Flying elephants, musical monkeys, a dancing peacock, a raja and his winged steed, various gods, goddesses, demons, and everyday village scenes—all painted in bright, multicolored hues—open up a window onto Gond life and mythology. Rich in detail, color, mystery and humor, these colorful and captivating artworks brilliantly explore the transformation of communal and ritual forms ofexpression into signed artworks intended for urban, national, and international markets and exhibitions.

Painted Songs & Stories, features works from the private collection of art historian John H. Bowles, and is organized by the Wellesley College South Asia Studies Program.