Subrata Biswas’ WHEN ART MEETS LIFE Opens 5 May in Pondicherry

PondyART is proud to present When Art Meets Life a solo exhibition by Photographer, Subrata Biswas opening 5 May on the corner of rue Romain Roland and rue Bazaar St Laurent.


When Art Meets Life

Humans have been painting for thousands of years to express and communicate with each other. As in many other places in the world, tribal wall painting is also an age old tradition in India. This traditional art form has been especially visible in the Chota Nagpur Plateau around Hazaribagh and in the Manbhum area of West Bengal, but is now struggling for its existence.

Tribal wall painting traditions crossed generations transforming in type and form according to changes in life style, economic structure and change in geographical locations. The mural subjects and styles differ according to the individual tribe and the occasions during which the painting is done, but the ideas behind this art form remain similar in every region. Fertility is a primary theme, but life cycles, marriage, farming, and harvests are also common subjects. Wall paintings are usually done during occasions related to agriculture and marriage as a means to appease the Gods and the ancestors. Paintings are notable for their elegance, charm, iconography and aesthetic and ritualistic association and represent a treasure chest of traditional wisdom, knowledge and folklore and reflect the day-to-day lives of tribal society. The distinct characteristic of this art is the use of geometric patterns symbolizing thoughts, relationships and activities of the tribe within its environment.

Wall paintings done during the autumn harvest festivals in Hazaribag are known as ‘Sohrai’. In Purulia, the same art form is known as Bandna painting. Both ‘Bandna’ and ‘Sohrai’ festivals pay tribute to the cattle God ‘Pashupati’ in an effort to ensure the fertility of farming land and the success of the harvest. Though similar in purpose and celebration time, the art forms and styles differ dramatically due to contrasting geographical locations and life styles. Methods however are the same with tribal women decorating their huts using cloth swabs or chewed twigs of the local ‘Saal’ forest tree and natural pigments mixed with mud.

‘Khovar’ painting is done during marriage by tribal communities living in the forested hills of Hazaribagh. The paintings are offered for the good luck of newly married couples. The vibrant tradition of mural painting is evident on house walls with special attention given to the bridal chamber. A layer of wet, cream-coloured earth (Dudhi mitti) is painted over an undercoat of black earth and designs are cut with bits of combs or the fingers exposing black patterns on white. These paintings also include fertility symbols celebrating union and breeding.

Though these art forms of the Chota Nagpur plateau show enormous skill, conveying intense socio-economic situations and the rituals of daily life of tribal communities, this traditional artwork is slowly disappearing. With the increasing effects of urbanization and the reluctance of younger generations to retain their traditional culture, there are only a handful of villages left where people still paint their houses.


Subrata Biswas (born 1982) is an independent visual storyteller from India.  He holds an engineering degree in IT but an immense interest in visual arts from his childhood led him to pursue a full-time career in photography and painting.  His work focuses on lesser reported issues, with a very personal approach.  He also worked as a photojournalist with Hindustan Times in New Delhi.  His works have been published and exhibited widely in India and internationally by BBC, CNN, Associated Press, the Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Hindu Business Line, Delhi Art Gallery and many others.

To see more of Subrata’s work visit or follow him on Instagram at @subratabsws

Exhibition Opening: 5 pm Friday, 5 May 2017

Location:  Corner of rue Romain Rolland and rue Bazaar St. Laurent in the French Quarter of Pondicherry (Landmark:  Kalinka Gallery)

This Exhibition is supported in part by:

Muthu Stickers

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