Gond paintings on shoes: Adivasi artists up in arms

Say for them their art is sacred; to submit memos to culture, tribal ministers 

SmitaUpdated: Saturday, December 17, 2022, 11:53 PM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Gond artists in the city have decided to stage protest against making Gond paintings on shoes. They say it is an insult to their art.

A Jabalpur-based organisation has done this experiment. About 160 Gond artists from Patankar in Dindori district are associated with this organisation, which is making table-tops, window and door panes and doors of cupboards decorated with Gond paintings, mainly for export. But the inclusion of shoes in the list of products has angered the Gond artists.  

“For us, our art is sacred. It is wrong to make such paintings on shoes. I am pained and disappointed to hear this,” Gond artist Padma Shri Durga Bai Vyom told Free Press.

Another Gond artist Padma Shri  Bhajju Shyam said that changes and experiments are always welcome. Art shouldn’t remain static. But making Gond painting on shoes is too much, he said.     

President of the MP unit of the Rashtriya Gondwana Party, Anand Singh Shyam said:  Those who’re making Gond paintings on shoes deserve to be beaten up with those very shoes. They are insulting our art form just for the sake of money.”

Anand further said that they would submit memoranda to the state culture minister and the minister for tribal affairs demanding halt to this practice.

Dilip Singh Shyam, 45, who has been making Gond paintings for the past 25 years, said that “We have brought our art on the international platform with great efforts. Paintings should, ideally, be made only on canvas. We can even put up with decorating doors, windows and tables with Gond paintings. But making paintings on shoes is unacceptable. It is shameful,” he said.

Another Gond artist Gareba Singh Tekam, 42, said that for them, their art is worship. “Our paintings are based on our festivals, rituals and traditions and on nature. We are worshippers of nature. It is shocking to learn that shoes are being painted with Gond art,” he said. “It should not be done. We oppose it,” he added.  

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