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Chronicles of ‘Jogi’ art from Rajasthan

Chronicles of 'Jogi' art from Rajasthan

New Delhi : A series of uniform dots using a ball-point pen on paper takes the shape of detailed sketches by Soni Jogi, one of the 15 members of the Jogi family in Rajasthan that has developed a form of art called ‘The Jogi’.

An intriguing cross section of people ranging from teenagers dressed in casual clothes, to fruit and vegetable vendors, school children and a multitude of vehicles zigzaging their way through traffic — Soni’s sketches provide a glimpse into the chaotic spectrum of an Indian city.

The sketches are part of the ongoing “Chronicles from Rajasthan – Art of the Jogis” exhibition at the Bikaner House here.

“Over the last four decades Ganesh and Teju Jogi and their six children developed and built their language of art into a formal structure,” says Tulika Kedia, who has authored the book, “Contemporary Expressions – Art of the Jogi family”, which was launched at the Jaipur Literature Festival recently.

Their drawings vividly illustrates the experiences between the city and the village, between tradition and modernity, between freedom and oppression, she says.

The Jogis, were originally a group of wandering minstrels who used to earn their livelihood by singing devotional songs and ballads in return for food and money.

“Their hardships encouraged them to try their hand at drawing and this is how an original art form which wove tales of the village and the city, of gods and goddesses, mythology and modernity emerged,” says Kedia.

Renowned artist and anthropologist Haku Shah encouraged Ganesh to draw. Setting pen to paper and forging a fresh new narrative style, Ganesh was soon joined by his wife Teju and eventually six children in what became a family tradition.

“They were still storytellers, but in a different way,” says Kedia.

Kedia, who has curated an ongoing exhibition of their art at Bikaner House here, has over 800 sketches of the Jogi family in her personal collection.

“The first time when I saw the art of the Jogis, I was completely enraptured by the contemporary expression and simplicity in their style of painting,” she says.

On writing a book exclusively on the ‘Jogi art’, Kedia says, “It is a serious attempt to bring international visibility to the beauty of this little known art practice, to give the indigenous art of India the much needed attention.”

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