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 » 2014/02 - NikkiSingh Ureti :

Artist in Focus – NikkiSingh Ureti

Artist in Focus

Needless to say India is a melting pot of cultures. The rich diversity in terms of background, race, ethnicity…that is to be found in India, is probably unrivaled. It is this same diversity that given rise to various traditional art forms in the country. One of these is the Gond style of traditional art and we bring you one of its leading artists NikkiSingh Ureti.

How did your interest in art develop?

I remember that I must have been around only five years old studying in the first standard in my village when I got drawn towards painting. I started painting everything that I saw around me in the village – the way we live, the work we do – so my paintings had scenes like ploughing the fields, women cooking on an open fire and such. I would even have dreams at night about what I would paint the next day.

When I was very young my mother fell very ill, due to that I dropped out of school and later decided that painting would be the goal of my life. I was greatly inspired by Jangarh Singh Shyam who had taken our Gond art form to such international heights. All around me also in my village were these amazing paintings done on the walls by the women of our village. With such a rich heritage around me and with the blessings of Jangarh Singh Shyam, I too started painting in the Gond style. In a way you can say that is a family tradition that has been passes down through the generations.

Tell us more about Gond art.

Gond is more a way of life than just art. It is not only something that is colourful or looks nice but bears our history and culture. It tells the stories of our Thakur Devis and Gods, it celebrates our festivals, it rejoices in a bountiful harvest and it speaks of the poignant love of a family when a daughter weds and leaves the home. For those who seek to understand our Gond art, they will find everything of the way we live in our paintings.

Is there any difference in the way the young Gond artists create their works from the way it was done in the past?

Well, life is in a state of continuous evolution and since our art is based on life, it too has not been immune to changes. There have been modern influences on our art, for instance in some paintings you would find images of an airplane woven into the story. I feel that there is greater finesse in the manner of creation of the paintings and this is also because the medium we use has changed from rough walls of the homes, our art has now transitioned to canvas and paper, in addition we no longer used natural dyes but commercial paints which has increased the options of the colour palette immensely and introduced a new vibrancy to the works while not compromising on our traditional roots.

How do you perceive the future?

I wish to continue in this line as long as I am able, God willing. I hope one day that I too will get the recognition that the great Jangarh Singh Shyam enjoyed. By the grace of God, my painting has opened up my horizons for me, from Bhopal I have had the opportunity to travel to many cities in the country including the amazing metros of Mumbai and Delhi. Who knows perhaps I may get a chance to travel abroad as well and from painting an airplane, may actually get to travel in one!


~ Razvin Namdarian



 
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