The Pardhan Gonds form part of the extensive Gond tribal community in central India. This exhibition presents a wonderful collection of paintings by two contemporary Gond artists: Venkat Raman Singh Shyam and Rajendra Kumar Shyam. They were both greatly influenced by their uncle, the late Gond artist Jangarh Singh Shyam, internationally renowned for combining traditional subject matter with modern materials. This selection of paintings exhibits the individual style of both artists within this art movement. They skilfully provide their own personal interpretation of traditional Gond mythology using acrylics and ink on canvas.

Each painting is accompanied by an extensive explanation from the artists themselves, detailing the myth or story depicted. It was fascinating to learn about some of the tribe’s cultural heritage, from Pardhan Gond artists renowned for their story-telling techniques. Rajendra’s depiction of ‘The Poison of Wine’ stands out as being particularly entertaining, as he links a parrot, lion and boar. Rajendra explains that after one glass one is a parrot repeating kind words, after two one starts to roar like a lion and after three one becomes a boar.

It is surprising, considering the quality of their work, that this is only Venkat’s third exhibition and Rajendra’s first one abroad. In a painting entitled, ‘Aeroplane as Fish’, Rajendra tells us that visiting the exhibition will be his first time flying, which seems to make this small exhibition all the more special. Rajendra’s wife, Sushila, often assists him in his painting, a common practice in the Pardhan Gond community but unfortunately she receives little recognition in the exhibition.

Although slightly out of the way in Hyson Green, this exhibition, which runs until 19th December, is well worth seeing and could easily be combined with the Asda shop if time at the end of term is precious.

By Venetia Hulse

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