Warli is one of the oldest forms of Indian folk art and has its origins in the Warli region of Maharashtra. Traditionally painted on the red ochre walls of huts, the materials used in Warli painting speak directly to the circumstances of village life and the local environment — cow dung from the animals that give sustenance, rice paste from the surrounding paddies, charcoal from the fires that are vital to life. The Warli exclusively use a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water mixed with gum, which is then applied to the wall using a bamboo stick chewed at one end to make a supple paint brush. In the dim half-light of the huts, the rice pigment appears to gleam, giving the paintings an ethereal aura.
Anil Vangad hails from a small Warli tribal village in the state of Maharashtra. As a child he was entranced by watching his mother paint using the tribe’s craft and was then taught the techniques at an early age. Now, his work has been exhibited across India, Europe and the U.S. Vangad works exclusively with natural materials like rice paste, cow dung and charcoal, and advocates for other Warli painters to do the same. While his materials are traditional and historical, Vangad’s perspective is contemporary, documenting his thoughts and observations of modern village life in his paintings.
Geometry plays an important role in Warli paintings. As part of the simple pictorial ‘language’, circles represent the sun and moon, while triangles and squares represent mountains, trees and humans. The bodies of men, women and animals are created by using two triangles joined at the tip, precariously positioned to symbolise the delicate balance of the universe and mankind’s place within it. One of the most popular themes in Warli art is a spiral chain of humans around one central motif. This is said to represent life’s ‘eternal journey’ that has no beginning and end.
Although traditionally the figures of humans, animals, gods, goddesses, and non-figurative designs were painted on the walls of houses during times of celebration, now it is commonplace to create these images on paper.
We’re delighted that Anil will be exhibiting as part of this year’s Selvedge World Fair 2021, and that he has agreed to run a workshop on Warli painting. This is a rare opportunity to learn about the history and process of Warli painting from a world-leading practitioner, who will demonstrate techniques using traditional materials over zoom. Participants will use coloured sheets of paper to replicate the traditional base colours of Warli paintings and use paints to create a design that reflects your life and values.
Book the workshop here: Warli Painting with Anil Vangad