Indian Tribal Art

Amitava’s academic interest fueled by his strong social commitment takes him to the roots of  Indian tribal and indigenous art in remote tribal hamlets in India. His privately published DIARY OF AN ART MASTER is fascinating in terms of poverty sicken Children’s art and through which very poor tribal kids narrated their observation on their life and society. On this diary Eminent Sociologist John Clammer in his recent article ‘Social Alternative. Art and the Arts of Sustainability’ said “ artist Amitava Bhattacharya, himself a well known painter who has devoted much of his recent time to working with depressed Adivasi or tribal communities in central and eastern India, areas also home to large communities of Dalit or “Untouchables”, and encouraging artistic production and exploration (Bhattacharya 2012). Many of these communities have seen their traditional land grabbed for mining or dams; others suffer from poverty, social exclusion, and lack of access to education, health care or employment. Many have an indigenous artistic tradition, ignored by the mainstream art community in India or eroded by the displacement of communities and economic pressures. But others have had little contact with artistic production, and even if they do, do not have the physical materials (paints, canvas, crayons, paper) to carry it out. Bhattacharya’s efforts have been various, but in the remote tribal hamlets of the Chattisgarh district of the state of Madhya Pradesh, his work has been devoted to inspiring the local children to paint (on paper, glass and walls) and in so doing to discover their own creativity, and to find visual ways to comment on their life conditions and the circumstances that are influencing their lives, and the nature that surrounds them and from which they derive much of their livelihoods. The experience as documented by Bhattacharya in his lovely little book An Art Master’s Diary (Bhattacharya 2013) proved to be empowering to the children and their parents, provided a visual means of social critique, assisted in the deepening of appreciation of their natural environment, and by promoting one form of imagination, stimulated others”.

Social  activities

Amitava has already extended his diary through various stints with tribal kids in Orissa involves himself in community art project with Indian tribals. Last year Amitava facilitated a 1o day’s long community art program in a tribal village in Purulia District of West Bengal. It was basically a project to paint on their huts to observe their spring festival called ‘BAHA’ a festival of flowers.

Amitava’s recent objective is to be an artist activist to take art as sustainable development and well being of people.  For this Amitava is associated with an organization in Tribal hamlet of Odisha based in Koraput district to organize a permanent craft workshop of local tribals to explore their own traditional skills.. You can find Amitava in www.desiakoraput.com. In Koraput tribal hamlet Amitava did two weeks long art workshop with tribal children again and the printed version of children’s paintings in portfolio form the organization sold to many people and the entire profit they used for the development of two villages in the mountain.

Read more: John Clammer on Amitava’s work on Indian Tribal Art and his social commitment


Survey of Sino Indian Artistic Discourse

Diary of an Art Master