Online Exhibition


Jal, Jungle aur Zameen

जल जंगल और ज़मीन


Recent paintings by

Rajkumar and Shantibai

17 June to 15 August 2021


JAL, JUNGLE AUR ZAMEEN: Recent Paintings by Rajkumar and Shantibai

Artists Rajkumar and Shantibai articulate their thoughts through the essential constituents of their world, Jal (water), Jungle (forest), and Zameen (land) in this latest series of paintings. Both inherit a deep association with nature and chose the medium of painting that is not unfamiliar to the cultural expression of the communities around them. Yet, what they create is extraordinary of our times. These paintings created during the pandemic period, on one hand, chronicle the daily life and lived experiences of the ordinary citizens who are away from the urban centres, as they make sense of the unprecedented pause brought by it. On the other, they make us revisit the endearing biosphere through the lens of the pandemic as the ongoing crisis has forced us to relook at the human-nature relationship.

The earlier bodies of works by these artists who have been working together as members of the Dialogue Interactive Artists Association, an artist-run organisation in Kopaweda of the Kondagaon district in Chhattisgarh, have strongly responded to the social struggles and atrocities experienced by the marginalised communities around them. In these sets of paintings, there is an inward shift to the artists’ gaze. The invasion of land, water and forests and the very mechanisms through which it violently takes place – be it the mining industry, the construction of dams, the eradication of forests and ecosystems, or the mere presence of giant machines, or the confrontation between the state machinery and the native citizens. All are portrayed as a backdrop to the daily lives of the humble people whose lives are knitted around the land, water, hills, and forests. This encompasses the lives of Rajkumar and Shantibai too, making these paintings exceptional. The artists adopt different narrative strategies to articulate their views. Rajkumar chronicles everyday activities during the lockdown period, weaving a web of newer symbols and iconography for revisiting the damage caused by the human interventions to nature’s order. Shantibai, on the other hand, reconstructs her journey to the mining heartland introducing us to the chilling industrial activity in a subversive mode. Put together these paintings become grounds for self-introspection with a word of caution. These autobiographical pictorial essays form an important archive of the pandemic period.

Rajkumar and Shantibai, in their careers spanning over two decades, have been deploying the techniques, tools and language of indigenous artistic expressions with newer aesthetics in order to create a contemporary expression that speaks to the tribal and non-tribal worlds alike. While the idiom of storytelling remains central to their creations, they subvert and manipulate the morphology and semantics of not only the narrative-making but also the image-making. The current set of paintings can be seen as an expansion of this artistic journey.



Click to View the Artworks

    Click to View the Artworks          

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