‘St+art India’ is reviving this 2,500-year-old folk art form from Maharashtra with indigenous artists
St+art India is currently running with its second edition of month-long art residency named ‘From Craft To Contemporary’ where it’s infusing new life into Warli — a folk art form of Maharashtra
Not-for-profit organization St+art India Foundation is currently running its second edition of month-long art residency named ‘From Craft To Contemporary’ in association with Asian Paints. The project aims to support indigenous artists by contemporising their work and popularising local art forms. With the current project, the organisation aims to breathe life into Warli, a folk art form dating back to 2,500 BCE and prominent in the western ghats of Maharashtra. Internationally acclaimed sibling artist duo of Mayur Vayeda and Tushar Vayeda from the indegenous Warli community are pioneering the ongoing project which is about to reach its last phase with murals being created in Lodhi Art District, Delhi.
Warli was originally painted on the walls of indigenous communities of Maharashtra during weddings and harvest season using rice flour and bamboo brushes. In the 1980’s several artists from Ganjad, a small village in Palghar district of Maharashtra began to artistically explore this tradition on canvas to capture their community through its vibrant folklore and cultural practices. The Vayeda brothers have been carrying on this legacy with passion and robust experimentation in terms of mediums. While traditionally, these elements were created using bamboo brushes, it’s for the first time that they are being scaled using stamps and stencils.The brothers along with other artists are choosing the landscape of the refreshing western ghats to take us down the memory lane of ancestral Warli community villages that once used to be adorned with this art. Since these villages revered nature, hence motifs like water, air, fire, seeds, flowering can be seen populating the present mural work at the residency.
Hanif Kureshi, co-founder and creative director, St+art India Foundation, says, “Warli is one of the popular traditional art forms which has been existing since centuries and there have been several attempts to rejuvenate it in the past. This residency is our attempt to infuse a new dimension into this art form in collaboration with the practitioners who belong to the community. With a rigorous month-long process, we have spent time with them to learn about the art form and collectively build new techniques, which they can also utilize in their future work, ensuring the longevity of this collaboration. While in Lodhi Art District, their mural will enrich the colony with another piece that echoes the importance of archiving and celebrating traditional Indian art forms.”
The artistic initiative is an attempt to modernise old Indian art forms by active collaboration with folk artists. Amit Syngle, CEO & MD Asian Paints Ltd. says, "Through St+art Residency ‘From Craft to Contemporary, we endeavour to bring indigenous artists to the forefront by contemporizing their art form while giving them direct exposure to a global audience. Comprehensive research has gone behind bringing this project to life which we are showcasing through this contemporary labyrinth of art. We started this residency project in 2019 by using stencils to create a Gond art mural in Lodhi Art District and now we are focusing on Warli art created by artists who are making this ancient cultural art accessible to the world. I’m certain this project will strike a chord with onlookers and art connoisseurs.”