Get a glimpse of the rich and diverse tribal art styles at Aadi Chitra.

India boasts of nearly 700 recognised tribes today. And each tribe has its own distinctive culture in every realm of life, be it food habits, rituals or art. Now imagine those many styles of painting as there are tribes… That’s the artistic heritage which we, as a nation, are repository of. But how many of us pause to think of that artistic wealth and how many tribal art forms are slowly disappearing.

It is here that the initiatives and the efforts of TRIFED (Tribal Co-operative Marketing Development Federation of India) have to be lauded. For 25 years, the organisation has not only played facilitator between artist and consumer, but it has also identified and encouraged youngsters to take up painting forms specific to a region.

Some from the Tribes India collection now adorn the walls of the Lalit Kala Akademi, at an exhibition, once again titled ‘Aadi Chitra.’ Curated by V.V. Ramani, the show spotlights Gond and Warli art, besides Odisha’s Saora style and metal craft from Jharkhand.

A mirror to life, these canvases, in a splash of bright hues, are not just images of daily chores and flora and fauna, but also reflect the simple and natural way of life. The uncomplicated themes however come in quite intricate and detailed patterns, where an artist uses dots, lines and geometric shapes to recreate Nature in all her glory. If one depicts a wedding procession, there’s one where human forms are strung together to take the shape of musical instruments. And they are drawn free hand!

Among those which stand out is a Gond work featuring elephants. There are 15 of them and each one is done using different colours. And the designs too are varied. Truly amazing! Among the exhibits, one can also find a few metal artefacts and ceramic ware. Most of the paintings are for sale and the prices range from Rs. 600 upward for unframed ones to Rs. 3000 onwards for framed ones.

The Aadi Chitra tribal art exhibition is on at Lalit Kala Akademi, Greams Road, till October 13, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.