Gond artist, Brij Bhushan Durve hails from the village of Dindori that lies on the idyllic banks of River Narmada in Madhya Pradesh. The Gond tribe is the largest Adivasi community in India and is native to the region where their traditional artform has existed for more than 1,000 years. They hold the belief that making and beholding a “good image” leads to good luck, and continue to decorate the walls and floors of their houses with traditional motifs and designs
The paintings are a way for the tribe to record history and preserve value systems and otherwise oral traditions. According to their belief system, all things big and small are inhabited by spirits which makes everything in their surroundings sacred. The paintings are a way of depicting man’s deep connection with nature. Gond artists also draw their inspiration from stories told by village elders, festivals, myths and legends, images from their dreams and everyday lives.
In the distinct Gond style, Dhurve’s paintings exude a simplicity that is characteristic of tribal art from across the world. Modest in form but striking in impression, the paintings emphasize storytelling and symbolic elements rather than the realistic depiction of nature. The paintings are a medley of dots and lines rendered in vibrant colours, conveying a sense of movement and life. The aesthetics of Gond art has been compared to aboriginal art from Australia which also employs similar usage of dots and lines.
Like some of his predecessors, Dhurve transitioned from painting on the mud walls of his village home to creating works on canvas and paper in the 1990s, making them available to a wider audience. In recent years there have been efforts to revive and conserve traditional tribal and folk art forms that epitomize the history and culture of local people who often live on the margins of society. Brij Bhushan Dhurve’s works have been recognized by the Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) which works to promote and sustain tribal cultures under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India. His works have exhibited extensively throughout India and also in the U.K. and France.