Gond Painting of a Magical Deer and a Bird
Gond folk art paintings seem to suggest that in the world of the Gond people all nature, all life, is interconnected. Their paintings create a magical world where people, animals and trees can all morph into one another.
This drawing in black ink on thick ivory coloured paper measures 28x35cm. It features the side view of a deer with its head turned back to look at a bird sitting on its back. The bird is facing back away from the deer but its head is also turned to look at the face of the deer. Their faces are almost touching and their relationship seems friendly, almost intimate. That both their eyes are drawn in the same style – almond shaped with black pupils – suggests they see things in the same way and that one could become the other.
The body of the deer is decorated with a series of loops that extend over the face. The spaces in between are filled with a soft squiggly pattern gently suggesting a short coat of soft fur. The representation of feathers on the bird is even more playful and is achieved with a series of overlapping series of arcs all the way from the neck to the tail that create a friendly and almost comic texture. A charming touch is that a decorative pattern around the deer’s neck suggests a necklace, or maybe a belt put there by an owner?
So far so good, the drawing is charming and straightforward. But this is Gond art and we head into the magical with the drawing of the deer’s antlers which morph effortlessly into the branches of a tree, complete with numerous side branches, leaves and buds. Gond drawings and paintings are always magical but this drawing of a friendly bird and a deer whose antlers become a tree seems to be full of the appreciation of life and vision of harmony that is typical of the art of the Gond people.
We discuss more about the Gond in other posts, they are a large tribal group who live in upland forested areas of central India, especially Maharashtra.