The Telegraph
Wednesday , November 21 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Orphan art finds a doting parent
Tribal artists float society to give indigenous works global recognition

United we stand — the message comes loud and clear from like-minded tribal painters and sculptors who have joined hands for the first time to promote and protect indigenous art in Jharkhand.

The core group of 25 members, christened Tribal Artist Co-operative Society (Jharkhand), aims to tap state, national and international markets and give old art new life and commercial recognition, besides honing skills of rural youths with creative bent.

“So far, we had been working individually in our respective fields and felt the need for a platform. We decided to paint our future on a bigger and brighter canvas. Though we currently have only 25 members, the idea is to connect with artists across the nation who are associated with various varsities and institutes. This way, we will form a viable network, which can market indigenous works and also groom budding artists,” said noted sculptor Dillip Toppo, who is also the co-ordinator of the Society.

Barely a week old, the ambitious organisation walked its talk with a three-day exhibition from November 15 at Central University of Jharkhand. It also hosted a tribal art exhibition-cum-sale stall at this year’s statehood fair — Yuva Evam Kaushal Vikas Mela — at Morabadi grounds.

Both public events saw masterworks of the Society’s founder members who have trained in fine and applied arts, besides sculpting, from prestigious cradles such as Banaras Hindu University, Visva-Bharati and Patna University. Their canvases and sculptures reflected tribal life and philosophy.

At the Morabadi fair, all the 30 paintings on display sold for around Rs 10,000 each, while the four-odd sculptures raked in up to Rs 80,000 each.

“In days to come, we will organise more such events in different cities of the state, as well as at the national level. Next in line is a January exhibition near the Assembly premises in Dhurwa,” said painter Vishwanath Lakra, a member of the core group.

Besides tapping the local market, the Society plans to explore national and international markets to make indigenous art economically viable.

Toppo, who is also a general council member of Lalit Kala Akademi, said metropolitan cities like Delhi and Calcutta have good markets for tribal art. “We will try to make inroads into these markets so that money is never a hindrance for creative skills of local artists,” he added.

While accomplished painters and sculptors are its backbone, the Society wants to extend its reach to the remotest of Jharkhand’s villages where many a tribal art is dying untimely death because of lack of recognition.

“We will hold training camps for rural artists and do everything possible to promote them in the art market,” promised Toppo.

Should such co-ops be formed to protect primitive tribes too?