Warli art Art

Warli art and the stick figure stories from Hyderabad

A wall painted in Warli art by Sohail Sayyed

A wall painted in Warli art by Sohail Sayyed   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

They are everywhere: on walls at busy junctions, bus stops... artists in the city are using the traditional Warli art form to not just beautify Hyderabad, but also to create awareness on important issues

The hour-glass stick figures seem to be celebrating a festival. Painted on mud red walls at the busy junctions of Ameerpet, Jubilee Hills check post and Yousufguda, they also convey an important message: to keep our streets clean and not urinate in public. The figures are of the Warli art form, which is finding its way not just on to city walls, but bags and bedsheets too. The city’s artscape has new stories to tell, and many of them use the art form as the medium.

Warli artist Sohel Sayyad (right) painting a wall

Warli artist Sohel Sayyad (right) painting a wall   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Sohel Sayyad is a gifted Warli artist pursuing his MFA from Pune; he travels to Hyderabad every month for his art projects and workshops. He, along with his friend Shashank Azad, runs Dream Brush Studios in Banjara Hills, that does commissioned art works. “Warli is a traditional art form of Maharashtra,” says Sohel, a native of Male Nagar in the State’s Solapur district. A shepherd during his younger days, he used to watch farmers working in the fields; he was always fascinated by clouds. He is a self-taught artist and began painting when he was 16.

Warli art on a bedsheet by artist Sohel Sayyad

Warli art on a bedsheet by artist Sohel Sayyad   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Simplicity is the key in Warli. Figures are created out of geometrical shapes — two triangles, stick-like hands and legs, a circle (representing face), a smaller circle (only for female form to indicate a hair bun) and square. “In Maharashtra, Warli is part of every child’s growing up years. Parents initiate children into it as they would traditional food and music,” he says. Sohel paints Warli figures on bags and bedsheets too. Using acrylic colours and liquid embroidery glue, he spreads the cloth like a canvas to paint on; once it dries, the cloth is ironed out, leaving the Warli imprint. He also does portraits and landscapes and one of his popular works in the city is a depiction of floral festival Bathukamma in Warli. For this, he researched on the significance of flowers and why women release them in water. “Unlike other art forms that need a perspective and colour scheme, Warli is easy to do and draws everyone to it.”

Adding more colours

    Warli art on a bag by artist Sohel Sayyad

    Warli art on a bag by artist Sohel Sayyad  

    Warli has appealing themes. At Ahobilam Foods in Madhapur, a 560 square feet wall has a monochromatic depiction of a village scene: roosters crow, farmers walk about the fields, work, and return home after sunset. With millets forming an important part of the menu at the restaurant, the work gives diners an idea bout where their food came from.

    Professional artist Ganesh C shares the inspiration behind this work: “Millets are an indigenous food and my idea was to create an art work that connects us to the earth and makes us feel rooted.” Ganesh has done Government projects at places such as Shilparamam, Visakhapatnam, Orissa and Chattisgarh. He attributes Warli’s rise in the city to the fact that it can covey themes in a simple manner. “Warli represents our villages; here, people struggle, but never pause to reflect on their pain. Warli brings alive a village environment where some activity is always happening. You can see people playing drums, dancing...these spirited and animated forms touch hearts.”

    Trishna Patnaik

    Trishna Patnaik   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

    A few days ago, Mumbai-based artist Trishna Patnaik’s Warli workshop at Jxtapose introduced the art and explained its uniqueness to participants. She explains, “Warli is about day-to-day life and the human connection. A vital part of it is what one does on a regular day — agriculture, weddings, anything a common man will do. There are no deities involved and there is no striking colour palette either,” she observes. “Unlike Mumbai, South India is more grounded and interested in tribal art. People are rooted and love to nurture such art forms.”

    Bhoomi foundation volunteer Gopalakrishna Nimmala drawing a rough sketch of Warli art

    Bhoomi foundation volunteer Gopalakrishna Nimmala drawing a rough sketch of Warli art   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

    Every weekend around 20 volunteers of Bhoomi Foundation select an area to remove posters from the walls, paint and beautify it with different forms of art including Warli. It has been one year since software professional Gopalakrishna Nimmala started working with the foundation. “I enjoy painting Warli forms on the walls of busy junctions,” he says.

    Bhoomi Foundation founder Tejaswi Podapati

    Bhoomi Foundation founder Tejaswi Podapati   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

    Bhoomi’s founder Tejaswi Podapati says that the idea behind choosing Warli is to tell a new story with the past in tow. “This art form was used by our ancestors and we want to rekindle people’s interest in it and also give out a message. These simple figures are powerful in capturing people’s imagination. The best thing about it is that even amateur artists like our volunteers can attempt it,” she says. Bhoomi has around 3500 volunteers from different backgrounds who have cleaned public walls of around 150 bus stops in the city.

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    Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 2:28:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/the-figures-of-the-warli-art-form-is-finding-its-way-on-to-hyderabads-walls-and-bags-and-bedsheets-too/article31058499.ece

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