ONLINE | DEC 2020

Bhuri Bai: My Life as an Artist

Curated by Nathaniel Gaskell, Shrey Maurya and Mustafa Khanbhai

The online exhibition My Life as an Artist charts the life of the painter, muralist and illustrator Bhuri Bai. Her paintings are characterised by their lively visual vocabulary driven by an autobiographical and archival impulse, as she draws from her encounters with flora and fauna in the forests surrounding her village, motifs from traditional tattoos and later, her experiences and travels as a contemporary artist.

Bhuri Bai’s early work consists of earth colours such as black, red, green and yellow, which have traditionally been used by the adivasi community to which she belongs — the Bhils. While Bhuri Bai’s work is well known, her story is more often than not told without her involvement. Taking this into consideration, My Life as an Artist has been put together in collaboration with Bhuri Bai –– the first time such an approach has been adopted in exhibiting her work.

The exhibition consists of three segments. The first is purely autobiographical and composed of select paintings from a series commissioned by MAP in 2018. These paintings are accompanied by Bhuri Bai’s narration and tell the story from her birth, up until her move to Bhopal at the age of seventeen. The segment that follows features a timeline which traces her work as an artist beginning in the 1980s, after her meeting with Swaminathan. The timeline combines anecdotes by Bhuri Bai, along with a selection of paintings and documentary photographs from her private collection. The exhibition then ends with a presentation of her works from the MAP collection, including early paintings from the 1980s and 90s, as well as more recent large-scale commissioned works.

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