The current solo exhibition has sixty works on display — rare examples of early works by Lado Bai. These works were mostly created in the 1980s. She arrived at Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal as a construction worker and was encouraged by the institution’s founder, artist J Swaminathan to explore painting. The work presented spans two decades of her practice. The early works exemplify the inventiveness which is unique to the beginning of an artist’s journey and as the work evolves one can see her find new ground.
In all her works, her captivating visuals and easy storytelling style fuse her perceptions of the modern world with the tribe’s unique visual language. Perhaps the most versatile artist of the Bhil art tradition, she uses inherited forms in very contemporary and expressive ways, while experimenting with innovative subjects and new ideas.
Lado Bai’s work has never been static; it is a constantly evolving space that reflects her search for new idioms, and an innate interest in experimentation. While her visual language and narrative content remain rooted (and hearted) in Bhil culture, the medium and stylistic appearance as well as the essence of contemporary reflections shift and transform.
On display is a very special series done with charcoal. As a child, Lado Bai vividly remembers using charcoal to draw on the walls of her mud hut. She collected colored berries and leaves from the jungle and made them into a paste to use them as color for her wall paintings. Whenever she wanted a sooty black, she used a paste of crushed charcoal.