The Anthropological Survey of India has a rich tradition of a holistic approach to anthropology that shapes its orientation in contemporary times.There has grown a heritage of including artist and photographers, both still and cine, in the entourage of anthropologists (physical and cultural), archaeologists,Iinguists, psychologists, human ecologists, statisticians, computer programmers and sound technicians for all the work that the Anthropological Survey of India undertakes. The role of the artist has clearly been growing within the organisation as insight of the artist often catalyses, shapes and expresses what is sought to be achieved through the findings of research. Also the organisation provides space for play of individual creativity as it does for meaningful participation in an integrated manner. Mounting an exhibition, museum display, cover design and page layout for publication and accompanying on field trips are some of the sectors that the artist and photographers are involved in. These sectors are mutually learning experiences for the scientist and the artists.
This was the vision that was embodied by the founder Director, Anthropological Survey of India, Dr. B.S. Guha long before the coinage of the phrase, field of visual anthropology. In fact the Anthropological Survey of India can rightly boast of its rich collection of photographs and documentaries that dates from its earliest years.lt is because of the involvement of the artists that the museums attached to the regional centres of the Anthropological Survey of India have continued to attract attention of both the local people and tourists. The museums serve a special purpose in the dissemination of knowledge acquired through long years of being intensely involved in the understanding of Indian heritage, its people and many nuances of their adjustment of their environment.
With this backdrop it becomes apparent why this volume is special. Sri Anup Girl joined Anthropological Survey of India soon after he graduated from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, in 1983. He has spent his time imbibing the cultural and social diversity of India in company with the scientists in the organistion. His travels have taken him to distant Andaman and Nicobar islands, the forest clad Bastar, the state of Rajasthan, the plain of eastern India and the eastern Himalayas. The very nature of anthropological fieldwork enjoined that his observations were not fleeting; rather they involved participation in a certain sense, over prolonged periods of time. He was not constrained to maintain the dry’ objectivity as a requirement of the disipline of anthropology, he had more freedome to transcend this state and enter into the very beings of the people that were being studied. Also, unlike dependence on identified informations from identified locales, he had the space in which to explore the unplanned and unexplored. Through his observations and his expressions of the same, he has been struck by the flowing nature of heritage, how small, often in insignificant ways in the course of daily life, heritage is maintained, how changes are introduced and how each generation strives to remould heritage In keeping with their contemporary situation.
The volume entitled, The Flowing Heritage: An artist’s journey into life of the tribes is a maiden venture for the Anthropological Survey of India to showcase an artist’s impressions garnered through his association with the organisation for a little less than two decades. His artistic work has attracted attention for art lovers in India and abroad. He has enthusiasm and is eager to learn newer ways of using his artistic language for the cause of furthering anthropological understanding. I feel privileged to be a part of this volume and I am certain that this will attract a lot of attention, generate interest and help in the development of empathy between the viewer and the viewed. This volume also signifies a step further in the mission of a holistic commitment to anthropology, a tradition that was instituted right at the inception of the Anthropological Survey of India.
Social scientists and other students of human societies are bringing out number of valuable works on folk and tribal societies of India. Their respective ways of thinking are reflected in their works, thus giving rise to different genres of narrative.
The present volume is different from what the Anthropological Survey of India publishers generally. Here an artist has tried to preserve different acts and moods in the lives of the folk and tribal people through his skilful brushwork. An anthropological would rarely rarely follow his instinct or listen to his heart the way an artist would do. But when an artist does so to interpret the societies and cultures that the anthropologists have studied for so many years, all need to complement his effort.
The work of Shri Anup Giri in his special volume would evidently enrich the approaches adopted to document and analyse the life and culture of the ‘folks’ and ‘tribes’ from different parts of India.
Painting is one of the living tradition of India and have its unique history of development from the ancient to the modern era.lt is diverse and wide in quality and motif. The tradition and external influences are absorbed and moulded with modern Indian painting. Radically altered ideas of the artist and changing patterns are reflected in many modern paintings. India being a country of living heritage, Indian paintings are full of diverse pictorial and aesthetic potentialities within the frame of tradition.
One can discern and reconstruct various mythical, cultural and social aspects through these paintings. In every painting an artist carries specific intentions to convey some message.
As a human being an artist sometime becomes fascinated by some specific ways of life, which attract his artistic imagination and sentiment. He depicts such occurrences through the universal visual language, painting. He develops ideas and perceptions within himself. He tries to visualise or formalize his ideas and thoughts that he nurtures with his inherent pliability. He is always in search of a new area to indulge his creative impulses. All his cultural and social encounters are very much operative in his artwork. Every artist bears different perceptions of contemporary societies and cultures that he tries to articulate in his own language as well as against the backdrop of his frame of reference. Being fascinated with his inherent love for beauty, sometimes an artist feels a compulsive urge to break established norms and search for a new form. Like the physical environment, which usually attracts, an artist very quickly, the finer aspect of the social environments also do not escape the artist. Further he can manage to capture every nuance of people’s expressions, on various occasions.
India is vast, meshed by a number of regions having their own cultural contours enriched with traditional songs and dances as well as ways of life. He has moulded his paintings to create a distinctive formal entity, which indicates some elements of cultural traits integrated into a coherent whole. His precious thoughts and feeling about anthropological research are translated as practitioner of art in his excellent paintings. Man and nature relationship among the diverse sections of people is the central theme of his works. His quest to capture life and culture of the people of the countryside with paint and brush on canvas adds a special dimension to his work with appreciably subsumed element of an anthropological mindset in keeping with his aesthetic concept. The interplay of reality and the artist’s imagination are juxtaposed in his paintings. Ecological surrounding of Andaman and Nicobar islands fascinated Anup very much. His intimate observation of the way of life of the tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar island, their intricately related activities and forest and sea have transformed his in-depth feeling in some of his paintings. The joy of Jarawas receiving presentation articles from the outsiders touched Anup. Similarly the ever vibrating rhythm of dance of the Murias; Santals; and the Kalbelia women of Rajasthan have become the subjects of Anup’s paintings. The people, habitates, human feelings, eagerness, loneliness, the finer moments of life, their past times, leisure and waiting are depicted with eternal consciousness in surrealistic form.
A symphony of paintings and sketches is placed in this volume. The works are reflective of the artist’s exposure and observation of the people of Andaman and Nicobar islands, Bastar, Rajasthan and West Benagl. The works offer us a glimpse into our colorful cultural and social mosaic documented by Anup in his inimitable way with paint, brush and charcoal.
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