Chhattisgarh’s tribal farmer carves niche in art world

The famed Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, has rich collections of paintings — one of them is the work of Pesaduram — an illiterate tribal tiller of remote Gadabangar village in Narayanpur district in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar.
A member of Muria tribe, Pesaduram, 70, learnt about it when his son-in-law Pandi Ram Mandavi, a wood craft artisan, spotted his one of his paintings in the museum during his visit to Moscow on a cultural exchange programme in 2007. “I was amazed to see my father-in-law’s painting titled Bastar My Heart in the museum. I wonder how the painting landed there,” 48-year-old Mandavi told this newspaper here on Sunday.
Mandavi, who markets Pesaduram’s paintings to foreign tourists, says his works usually fetch prices ranging `10,000 to `50,000 per piece.
Pesaduram, who dropped out of school even before he completed a year, has already carved a niche in the visual art world with his works exhibited in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar and Bhopal.
The Shilpa Varsha Art and Research Society (SVARS), a forum of visual artists of Chhattisgarh, has aptly honoured him by selecting his painting as cover of its catalogue “Pravesh” (The Entry) 2011, released on the occasion of unveiling of the exhibition of works of budding and veteran artists of Chhattisgarh here recently. “I am deeply influenced by the culture and life of my tribe since my childhood. I have no formal training in painting. I just depict the tribal life in my paintings,” Pesaduram, who cultivates in his three acre agriculture land, told this newspaper.
His paintings are a reflection of a tryst with tribal life. He initially started painting on papers with natural colours produced from leaves of various trees and vegetables. Later, he switched over to water and acrylic colours to work on canvas.
“Sober and richness is his signature work. The simple and softness of the colour in his works match that of late celebrated painter Tyeb Meheta,” Rajendra Sungaria, a reputed artist of Chhattisgarh and SVARS secretary, observed.

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