Accepted paper:

The artistic imagination in ruptured landscapes


Jyoti Sahi

Paper short abstract:

Folk art has influenced modern Indian art. Modernity is global, but folk art is rooted in local culture. The elemental, links folk art to modern aesthetics. The ecological significance of tribal art gains a new currency in modern art. Connecting modern with primal art affirms the universal in art.

Paper long abstract:

Folk forms of art have influenced modern art in search of an Indian identity. Modernity has a global scope, but folk art is rooted in a local culture. The use of elemental materials, fused with a mythic world view gives to primal forms of art a timeless value. This art has an archetypal dimension, arising from life’s rhythm. The elemental basis of folk art links it to modernist approaches to the image in which a dialogue with materials is seen as an essential function of the imagination. In a globalized culture, the work of art is absorbed into a market economy. By co-opting the local Adivasi or folk artist into the urbanized world of modern art, the traditional image maker experiences a ruptured landscape. Changes in the natural environment in which artistic practices formed a ritual pattern, are further disrupted when image making is divorced from its mythic function. In attempting to see the relevance of a primal world view for modern art, the ecological significance of aboriginal myths and symbols have a new currency. Art affirms the perennial relationship between the human community and the natural environment. It is in this sense that modern artists are drawn to the primitive. The danger is to romanticize about the past. Art as creative expression does not develop, as the imagination is integral with being human. The art of pre-historic times is as authentic as modern art. The link between modern art forms and the art of folk artists affirms the universal in art.

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