Photo: Rupsona Chitrakar – Patachitra artist (Left) & Choti Tekam – Gond Artist (Right); Rupsona’s Photo Credit: Google Art & Culture
Women artisans in India are contributing to rural transformation, building a rich cultural capital. Let us introduce two of our women folk artists – Rupsona Chitrakar – a Bengal Patachitra artist & Choti Tekam – a Gond artist.
Rupsona Chitrakar – Bengal Patachitra Artist
Rupsona Chitrakar, 26 years old, is a patachitra artist – traditional scroll painter from the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. Born in Naya village of Pingla block in Paschim Medinipur district, She is the fifth generation in a family of Patuas who practice a unique folk art of painting-cum-storytelling through songs. She started painting at the age of six and learnt patachitra painting under the guidance of her father Bahadur Chitrakar and her grandmother Baharjan Chitrakar.
Rupsona’s grandparents travelled from village to village with paintings of epic stories done on scrolls and earned their livelihood from the village folks by narrating stories on some special occasions from Hindu Mythology and local folklores through paintings and songs (Pater Gaan). Their objective was not to sell their artworks /paintings but made their living from donations for their performances and often making appearances at local fairs where people came from many villages, increasing their audience base. Rupsona grew up seeing the struggles of her grandparents and in an informal setting such as the home, Rupsona employed observation, conversation, and ultimately, lots of practice to learn about and thrive in the art of patachitra. Rupsona recalls: “I used to sit beside my grandmother and observed her working on her scrolls. We have grown up in a place where everybody is engaged in the art form and we learned by observing them.” She got expertise in painting on Santhal tribal themes – santhal pats – which depict the lives and mythologies of the santhal tribe. Rupsona’s works have tribal motifs — with long, thin slender figures.
She was in class VIII when she got her first exposure when she travelled with her father for assisting him during a workshop in Kolkata. She accompanied his father during the exhibitions.
Rupsona Chitrakar, 26 years old, is a patachitra artist – traditional scroll painter of from the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. Born in Naya village of Pingla block in Paschim Medinipur district, She is the fifth generation in a family of Patuas who practice a unique folk art of painting-cum-storytelling through songs. She started painting at the age of six and learnt patachitra painting under the guidance of her father Bahadur Chitrakar and her grandmother Baharjan Chitrakar.
She paints on religious themes and works on apparels as well. After finishing her school she took the painting as her profession and participated in exhibitions and fairs in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore and Pune. Her paintings are bought by connoisseurs and collectors. Rupsona had participated in the Copenhagen World Music Festival, Denmark in 2017 and took her work to international audience.
She got married at the age of 16yrs to Suman Chitrakar who is also a Patua artist. They both now travel for exhibitions and workshops across the country. Their daughter is just 10 years old but can sing and practicing Patachitra painting along with her study.
Choti Tekam – Gond Artist
Choti Tekam, a state-awardee Gond artist from Madhya Pradesh, was born in Sonpuri – a small village. She grew up seeing her mother beautify their home and courtyard with Digna, a form of decorative painting with geometric motifs.
When Choti was 18 yrs old she got married to Santosh Tekam in the village of Patangarh. After that they moved to Kotra Sulatanabad, Bhopal in 2000. In Bhopal Choti worked as a housemaid and day-laborer for earning livelihood. But she was not happy with her work and being inspired by seeing other women of her neighborhood practicing Gond art Choti started to learn it under the guidance of Ram Singh Urveti – a fellow Gond artist.
She recalled her village days while making Gond arts. Being in harmony with nature, green pastures, forest trees, animals and village life, Choti used nature to inspire her art. So her Gond paintings depict various celebrations, rituals and man’s relationship with nature. The Gond paintings are represented through a repetitive patterning of dots and dashes and Choti uses this patterning to create her own signature style. She found income through her art skill after a lot of struggle.
Being guided by her teacher Ram Singh Urveti who was working in Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), Bhopal Choti first exhibited her art skills at VanVihar National Park, Bhopal. Then she started working under IGRMS where her art works were showcased. She gradually gained confidence with encouragement from her husband to exhibit her paintings in various places. At work in the Museum all day, she dreamt of the images she will paint on her canvas at night.
Photo: Choti Tekam (Left); Credit : Origin.mid-day.com
Many organizations started inviting Choti for exhibitions (including Alva’s Varnavirasat in 2015), workshops and commissioned projects like painting Gond art on wall, fabrics, decorative items, ambassador car, bike etc. Her paintings were showcased in state and national level exhibitions (including TRIFED in 2012) and in overseas like America, Singapore and Japan also.
Choti Tekam has bee painting for 22 yrs now. Choti with her determination has made a place for herself among the well-known artists in the contemporary Gond genre. She received many awards and honored as the Women Achiever (2016-17) by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) for reviving the tribal art.
Check out a video on the story of Choti Tekam HERE. Images of some of her artworks are given below.