Venkat Shyam2009

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

In 2008, Venkat Raman Singh Shyam (India b.1970) was visiting Mumbai, and from the window of his hotel, he personally witnessed the events surrounding the terrorist attacks that targeted the Taj and Oberoi hotels. Rescue, Attack, Fruit-gun and Signal belong to a series of works he created in response to experiencing these events. While the works illustrate current news events, Shyam uses the characteristic line work of Gond drawing to convey a sense of life and movement that he applies to his more traditional motifs, giving these images a powerful sense of imminence.

Venkat Raman Singh Shyam is from the Pardhan Gond people. The Gond are one of the largest indigenous groups of India and are spread throughout several states of central India. Their artwork is characterised by intricate design, storytelling and the use of natural symbols, such as trees and animals, with meanings rooted in folktales and Gond culture. Gond paintings were initially created only on the walls of dwellings and expressed religious belief and sentiment, recorded daily life, local festivals, and the objects, spirits and creatures Gond people perceived around them. They use an inherited convention of patterning and bright colours, as well monochrome drawings that convey energy and movement through the use of a characteristic thin line that surrounds objects and people.

Pardhan Gonds were traditionally responsible for reciting the community’s oral histories, officiating at ceremonies and festivals, and painting auspicious designs on walls and floors of houses. The first Gond artist to gain international recognition was Jangarh Singh Shyam (1962–2001), the uncle of Venkat Shyam. Venkat Shyam began painting when he was 10 and worked as an apprentice for his famous uncle. Shyam draws on the Gond style, while also experimenting with new subjects and techniques.

Exhibited in 'The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT8) | 21 Nov 2015 – 10 Apr 2016

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