In this Warli painting, the painters, Rajesh Chaitya Vangad and Balu Ladke from Ganjar, Maharashtra, have divided their work into separate sections that deal with the village landscape and daily activities, village crafts, and festive celebration involving music and dance, depicted here in the famous Warli dance circle. The juxtaposition of new motifs such as trains and aeroplanes with traditional themes is well within Warli art. But what is fascinating is the way the artists have introduced touches of versimilitude in otherwise stylised depictions of agricultural activity.
Thus, we see a series of paddy fields at the bottom of the panel but each field shows the paddy crop at a different stage of growth. In one, the seedlings have just taken root, not yet ready for harvesting, while in another, the sheaves are lying on their side already harvested, waiting to be gathered for winnowing. Even more interesting is the way in which the artists have introduced the Warli ‘signature’ into the panel. The dance circle is the most well-known motif in Warli painting. There is also the figure of a fisherman casting his net in a river. The fishing net is approximately 10 times the size of the fisherman and immediately brings to mind the famous painting by Jivya Soma Mashe whose fishnet painting is reproduced in many books on Warli art.
Such self-conscious use of quotations to signpost a distinctive art style must surely remind us that these artists are part of the commodified world of contemporary Indian art, and while perhaps yet to fall victim to forces of commercialisation, they are able to understand the discourse generated in the contemporary world and attendant art markets.