HOME

|  Artists | EXHIBITIONS | COLLATERAL PROGRAMMING | ART FAIRS | ABOUT | PUBLICATIONS | VIEWING ROOM | NEWS | BLOG | CONTACT  
 
 
  CURRENT   PAST   NEXT   
   
   
  Shantibai:

An Expedition to Bailadila Mines

 

  .Exhibition              .Shantibai                    .Brief bio

 

 
       
             
Untitled 1, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 2, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 3, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
   
             
             
       
             
Untitled 4, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 5, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 6, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
   
             
             
       
             
Untitled 7, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
             Untitled 8, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
        Untitled 9, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
   
             
             
       
             
Untitled 10, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 11, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 12, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
   
             
             
       
             
Untitled 13, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 14, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 15, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
   
             
             
       
             
Untitled 16, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 17, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 18, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
   
             
             
                       
             
Untitled 19, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
  Untitled 20, 2020, watercolour on paper,
11 x 15 inches.
       
             
             

Shantibai: An Expedition to Bailadila Mines

The set of twenty watercolour paintings by Shantibai take us on a journey through the Bailadila Range in South Chhattisgarh to the iron ore mines. One of their regular expeditions to these sites with her artist colleague Navjot Altaf and friend Ravirendra before the pandemic took over. The paintings record the scenes encountered during her journey – trees, plants and flowers, river and water creatures, shrine, and people, ending with a detailed depiction of the mining activities and snippets of their time spent at the site. In a nutshell, these folios form a visual diary recording memorable moments of the journey. Such portrayal of surroundings, daily life and experiences are integral to the indigenous art forms, in this case, the Gondi visual repertoire, which Shantibai has strong connections with.

Shantibai chooses to portray selective elements in each of these paintings. The sculpturesque trees and shrubs bearing fruits and flowers predominantly emerge against the dotted backdrop. In this pictorial game, dots traverse the length and breadth of the surface of the painting creating fluid forms. There are zones that get demarcated by these running dots that turn into fields, roads, swirls of the river, excavated fields, or heaps of ore. Every surface stands out as a part of a picture puzzle that can be removed and put back again. The human figures Shantibai brings into these paintings bear significant reference to the figures in her sculptures. Here too, they are marked with well-defined wide eyes that stand as witnesses to the narratives of the paintings. 

The time of the creation of these paintings becomes extremely important. Made during the pandemic times, and in the period of lockdown and the aftermath, these paintings are inevitably coloured with the crisis of our current times: the conflict between humans and nature that the invisible virus has brought forth for reflections. Shantibai features the land, water and forests as sites for deliberations. Her own voice is quiet and almost invisible. From a surface level, the paintings depict her journey to Bailadila through various scenes she encounters. These are accompanied by the utmost simple notes. For instance: “ये जंगल के बीच में रोड हैं, हम बैलाडिला जा रहें है। और उधर से ट्रैक्टर आ रहा था।” (We are on our way to Bailadila mines through the road within the forest. A tractor is coming from the other side). Yet, the idea of the road through the forest, land mines located in the middle and the truck unsettle our thoughts. Through these illustrious paintings, we are introduced to the flora and fauna, learn about the uses of plants, see people’s lives around the river, spot the spaces of worship, and experience the joy of the author in her watching the riverside. And then, we enter another terrain. Here the flourishing land is being dug up, crushed, melted and transported away. In other words, the land is being invaded. But Shantibai does not intend to contrast the two worlds. Rather, she renders the mining activities with the same observance in which she shows women plucking leaves on the riverside. The Palash tree and the giant mining machine are represented with the same gaze and intensity. Thus she leaves it to the viewer to construct meanings. The images of Shantibai cities hit back at us hard and challenge our conscience. Can we see the forest and river without thinking of the State and its developmental policies? Can we think of inhabitants of this land without thinking of their displacement? Can we look at the image of the idol of Mata ignoring the way the indigenous religious spaces and practices are invaded? Can we be mesmerized by the mining site forgetting the forest covers the region has lost? 

ये घना जंगल है, ये दो कास वहीं का है… (Ye Ghana Jungle hai, ye do Kaas vanhi ka hai...)

Notes by Shantibai

Back to the exhibition

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                   

   
 

© 2021 The Guild | All rights reserved

Find us on