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Paintings created by members of the Warli Tribe on view at Grosvenor Gallery in London
Warli anonymous, 1999. Acrylic on paper, 64 x 86 cm. (25 x 33 ¾ in.).

LONDON.- Grosvenor Gallery announces its exhibition, Warli Paintings.This exhibition is a first of its kind to be held in the gallery and is in collaboration withHervé Perdriolle, who is a leading expert in tribal and folk Indian art.

Warli paintings are paintings created by members of the Warli Tribe which live in the Thane District, about 90 miles north of Mumbai, India. They are an indigenous tribeor Adivasis who are guided by their own traditions and beliefs. The Warlis are essentially farmers. Their name probably comes from the word “warla”, which means a plot of land. The Warlis are not vegetarian and feed themselves on the little livestock they raise, supplemented by the results of their fishing and hunting. They speak Warli dialect, which has no written form. Today, there are approximately 600,000 tribe members.

The art of the Warlis is inspired by their day to day life which includes hunting, fishing, and gathering. The Warlis only use two colours in their paintings: red ochre, the same colour as their earthen huts, is used to create the ground, and white, which used to be made using rice powder, is the colour of the figures and motifs. This extreme economy of means allows a minutely detailed pictography to be created either as a complement or separately from their ritual motifs and daily activities.

The main component in their art is rhythm. The incessant movement in their art is related to human activity in general. The reason why gods are rarely represented in their art is because they are generally manifested in the forms of animals, minerals or plants. Trees are very common in Warli paintings and depicted with great care, as the spirits particularly like to manifest themselves in this form of life. One of the rare divinities to be represented is the goddess Palaghata. She is the symbol of abundance and fertility. Her body is composed of two inverted triangles - pala and ghata, the male and female. They symbolize the balance between the male and the female and also in the relationship between man and nature. In all Warli paintings, the two inverted triangles represent bodies, whether of human beings or animals. By simply altering the alignment of the two triangles, the figures are given movement. “There are human beings, birds, animals and insects. There is movement all day and all night. Life is movement.” With these words, Jivya Soma Mashe describes what moves the Warli soul.

These artists have been invited to exhibit in galleries and museums around the world. Including the British Museum and recently at the Quai Branly in Paris. Their works are in several collections including Foundation Cartier of Contemporary Art, Devi Art Foundation in Delhi and private collectors such as Agnés B.

Jivya Soma Mashe has been exhibiting his work in India and abroad since 1975. He received the National Award for the Tribal Art and has also received the Padma Shri for his contribution towards Warli painting. His works have been shown in Gallery Chemould, Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. His first exhibition outside India was at thePalais de Menton, France in 1976. He has also had exhibitions at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milano, Italy, Shippensburg University, United States, Halle Saint Pierre, Paris. He has also had a joint exhibition with Richard Long at Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, Germany. His works have been in important private collections in India and abroad.

Hervé Perdriolle is a collector, art critic and a curator. Since 1996, its main activity is to promote the "Other Masters of India" through the works of leading contemporary artists from tribal and folk Indians arts. In 2003, he organises an encounter between Richard Long and Jivya Soma Mashe, the legendary artist of the Warli tribe. This meeting resulted in two exhibitions, one in 2003 at the Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, the other in 2004 to PAC of Milano. He contributes in the organization of several exhibitions like (M)other India at the Galerie du Jour/Agnès B. and Show & Tell at the Foundation Cartier (Paris 2011 and 2012).

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