The original inhabitants of India are most correctly described by the umbrella term Adivasi. Under this term a large number of communities exist with different social, religious and artistic practises.
In the early 1970s, due to certain government initiatives, painters in the Warli villages of the Thane district, north of Mumbai began a transition from strictly mural painting to a more portable format of painting on paper. Whereby the earlier mural painting had been performed solely by women on ceremonious occasions such as marriage, the new format which altered the context of production, not only marked a change in technique and material but also expanded the field to include male painters and the depiction of more quotidian subjects.
Minakshi was born into a community of Varli or Warli people in Ganjad, in rural Maharastra. Traditionally she painted on the walls of domestic dwellings but as her practise grew she travelled to different centres around India to exhibit her paintings made using a grass blade, rice paste and poster colour on paper or cloth. Her painting often has the diagrammatic quality of a pictogram but is rendered with an exquisite attention to detail that captures the nuances of everyday life.
In this painting a group of dancers, arm in arm, spiral around a central figure who is playing the Warli pipe ( tarpa) in a celebration of Diwali (the festival of light) in honour of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Lamps and fireworks used to illuminate the night and ward off evil on this festive occasion can be seen held in the hands of the figures on the outside of the dancing group. The artist's eye for detail and delight in celebrating everyday events, weaving them into larger compositions, is a distinguishing feature of her work.
rice paste and poster colour on paper
58.3 x 90.8 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, Devanagari script, white poster paint, "Minakshi Vasukhe Vayeda". Not dated.
Shown in 3 exhibitions
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 01 Apr 1993–09 May 1993
- Wollongong Art Gallery, Wollongong 15 May 1993–12 Jun 1993
- Orange Regional Gallery, Orange 25 Jun 1993–31 Jul 1993
- Canberra School of Art Gallery, Canberra 05 Aug 1993–04 Sep 1993
- Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown 17 Sep 1993–24 Oct 1993
Indian Folk Paintings and Textiles, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 29 May 2004–04 Jul 2004
Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Aug 2018–06 Jan 2019
Referenced in 2 publications
India Songs: multiple streams in contemporary Indian art, Sydney, 1993, 42, 43 (colour illus.), 54. cat no. 44
Alan Mascarenhas, Sydney Morning Herald, "Grains of lives sewn at the margins', pg. 16, Sydney, 28 May 2004.