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How Baiga tribe lives, protects nature

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

The pop of colours in Ashish Kachhwaha’s art symbolise the nature, animals and the culture of the Baiga tribe. The exhibition ‘Sensational Jungle’ is taking place at the Triveni Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam till August 31.

Artist Ashish Kachhwaha poses in front of his artworks.

Twenty two years ago, Ashish Kachhwaha wanted to try his hand in painting. But due to insufficient financial resources, he could not fulfil this dream. Eventually, a District Panchayat’s government scheme paved the way forward for him to work at the art and craft emporium of the Kanha National Park. The Mandala-born artist took this golden opportunity and started his adventure as an artist at the national park.

During the first seven years of his stay, he learnt fascinating things about the Baiga tribe who were living in the park. “I learnt that the tribal people were close to the nature. I also realised that tiger, tribe and forest are deeply connected. They have always stayed together, unlike the common perception that humans are moving away from the nature. I was surprised that despite the presence of the tigers in the region, people felt secure,” he said.

This motivated him to learn more about the Baiga tribe and their way of life. So, Kachhwaha quit working as an artist and moved in to stay with a tribal family to observe the Baiga community closely. It is these observations and their life that the artist has brought forth in his ongoing show ‘Sensational Jungle’ being held at the Triveni Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam till August 31.

The exhibition narrates the story of the tribe through colours instead of figurative art. All the untitled artworks are presented in a unique style on cut-out canvases.

But why did you choose colours, I asked. He says that colours as a medium of narration connected with the community's story.

“The pop of colours symbolise the colours of the nature, animals as well as the radiant culture of the Baiga tribe. When I lived with them, I saw myriad colours around me: in the form of plants, animals and birds. But I also realised that colours were not only present in the tribe’s surroundings but also in their culture. Even their traditional dance is colourful,” he explains.

Kachhwaha’s artworks also carry symbols and tiger print in some artworks. For instance, in one of his paintings, he has shown leaves sandwiched between tiger’s print and the tribe’s language (through symbols). This shows the way this community resides in the jungle.

Similarly, in another artwork, he has shown how the community lives. “The dots in the centre represent the tribe. In fact, these are not just any dots but are taken from their language. The green part is shown as the national park. It is my way of showing how tribal live and stay protected in the jungle despite the fact that the region is home to tigers,” he shares.

The artist has also stirred conversation around the aftermath of city life in one of his pieces. Has has shown how people living in the cities are becoming slaves of concrete jungles.

Supported by Raza Foundation, the showcase was organised on the birth anniversary of famous painter Syed Haider Raza.

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