Delhi, India

Draped in splendour in the art district of Delhi, ‘Must Art Gallery’ is a remarkable phenomenon in itself. Gond Art, being formerly the preserve of the museums, is now the manifestation of the ‘Must Art Gallery’. The gallery promotes traditional art practices and the extensive collection of Gond Art with its vibrant, compelling patterns and its spectacular imagery, which has won international acclaim and fame. Infused with a rich cultural intensity, Gond images are products of a fertile imagination, depicting nature in all its colours. They represent works of modern contemporary art rather than some antiquated tradition. These fantastic pictorial narratives, however, continue to revive the ancient form of story-telling, albeit in a new form, as animated imagery, which is essentially modern in style but resonant with a culturally-distinct ethos.

What makes the idea of the gallery so potent in its commitment to these captivating conceptions is not only the unique visual language of these images, but the fact that they preserve and perpetuate an entire way of life. It has carved a niche to enshrine the wit and wisdom of generations, and also the cultural and aesthetic traditions of the people. In its wide-ranging collection, the gallery features works of internationally- renowned artists like Jangarh Singh Shyam, Bhajju Shyam, Durga Bai, Ram Singh Urveti and Bhuri Bai.

Emerging artists draw out a treasure from a vast repertoire of oral narratives, working with acrylic on canvas and pen-and-ink on paper, and transform an oral tradition into a modern art form, with a unique visual vocabulary — richly expressive in its imagery and rooted in the local tradition.  As an organization committed to promote this unique form of expression that simultaneously straddles tradition and modernity, ‘Must Art gallery’ has striven to provide a sustainable platform to these artists, encouraging them to transcend cultural barriers and present an alternative way of perceiving the world.

Through its panoptic vision to promote and encourage Gond artists, the gallery seeks to cater to a range of interests ranging from the connoisseur’s eye of the academic and the collector, to the undiscerning, though intuitive, eye of the enthusiast. Indeed, its raison d’etre is to promote a social and cultural awareness of the aesthetic traditions of a people; who threatened by socio-economic change, might, as the renowned anthropologist, Verrier Elwin, wrote, “be led to reject the old life and follow the little idea of how to have rhythm and vitality, exuberance and delight.”

The gallery has, in a way, endeavoured to protect the artists from the demands of the lucrative art market, which not only renders their style rigid, leaving little space for experimentation and innovation, but also transforms the natural lifestyle that in the very first place inspired these images. Indeed, through its enterprising zeal, Must Arts has enabled the promising artists to continue creating and conceiving the world through their surreal dream-like imagination, independent of economic pressures.

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