"These paintings have brought tremendous benefits… Their children have the opportunity to go to school… They have better homes to live in, abundant food, access to health care, and more."
"I'm Padmaja Srivastava from India's City of Lakes, Bhopal. I'd like to share something about myself and my team of Gond artists.
"I am an architect by profession and work together with my husband. We try to preserve the local architectural styles while interpreting them in a modern way. While working on some architectural projects for resorts in remote locations in 2006, we came across this beautiful Gond art. Influenced by its beauty, I decided to promote it. The vibrant and rich colors are awesome. Besides, the stories are enthralling.
"Traditional Gond paintings take their name from the Gond tribal people in Madhya Pradesh. These colorful paintings were once done by women on the walls and floors of their homes, and themes traditionally revolve around village life, local festivals and religion.
"Although I am not the artist, I am the coordinator for different artists. Many times, I teach them design development and how to choose a color palette. The artists are self taught, and have no formal training. They usually learn while they apprentice with senior artists.
"The artists usually use acrylic paints and India ink, working with brushes and pens. Depiction a story is very challenging in Gond art. Today, many artisans are now refining their style, for example, an elephant is no longer child-like but is more realistic. Generally, a master artist does the drawing. The infill patterns are always done by family members.
"The artists find inspiration in looking at each other's paintings. I try to give them new ideas which they can interpret in their own style, and help them participate in exhibitions and art festivals in India and abroad.
"Most Gond artists find it difficult to start on their own as they have no means to market their art. I help and encourage them to exhibit their art to society and to the whole world. These paintings have brought tremendous benefits to the artist community. Their children have the opportunity to go to schools and professional colleges to pursue careers of their choice. They have better homes to live in, abundant food, access to health care, and more.
"Presently, I have a workshop where I coach some 10 to 15 artists. Each one has a style of his or her own. Most of the paintings tell the story of nature as the Gond tribe people love and venerate nature. I wish to promote their rich history through the art work done by different artists. I wish to give these Gond artists the platform they deserve.
"My dream is for my workshop to grow so that it can support many more artists. I also want to start a NGO where the Gond women can become self sufficient. Currently they work under the shadow of their husbands. I want to see them working independently and create a name for themselves."