‘Explore the world but don’t forget your history’ – award-winning artist Gurupada Chitrakar


Folk and tribal art have a niche following, but broader citizen awareness can provide more livelihood opportunities and cultural foundations, as this artist explains.

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Lalit Kala Akademi in Chennai recently hosted an exhibition of folk art and crafts from across India. The showcase featured tribal and folk exhibits from states such as Orissa, Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan, as shown in this photo essay.

Award-winning artist Gurupada Chitrakar has exhibited his patachitra scrolls across India, US, Italy, Spain, UK, China, Singapore and South Africa. “Those who study art history and anthropology are regular buyers of folk and tribal art, but more interest is needed among broader audiences to keep our traditions alive,” said Gurupada, in a chat with YourStory.

“Folk art is closely connected to folk dances, storytelling, rituals and performances,” he explains. Many of his paintings are meant to be accompanied by narration of traditional stories and legends.

The so-called “backward” areas in India are actually rich with symbolism and heritage, Gurupada adds. Understanding local folk culture can even help with designing effective advertising and campaigns around health issues such as polio awareness in rural communities.

“Art is more than an artefact. It is culture, it is society, it is you and me,” he explains. He has depicted folk customs in thousands of art works over the years. They are priced from Rs. 5,000 to Rs 40,000, but the cultural value in them is priceless, he adds.

Indians are becoming increasingly exposed to global culture and art, but should not forget their soul, Gurupada urges. “Explore the world but don’t forget your history,” he signs off.

Now what have you done today to explore the world outside as well as the world within?

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