India has a rich folk art – dance, music and even fine art. Each region has its own identity and own form of art. Madhubani, Dastkari, Pahadi, Wali, Pattachitra, Tanjore…the list is long.
And these art forms are not dead; in this time of Covid they are alive and kicking, using the traditional art form to drive home the message of washing hands and social distancing.
Dastkar is India's prominent society for crafts and craftspeople and it sources folk art from all over the country and a group of artists, working with them, during the lockdown have produced ‘Covid’ illustrations and paintings in traditional styles. These paintings convey the importance of social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands with soap and avoiding group travel. There are also scenes depicting hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.
Madhubani painter Ambika Devi has shown people wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing at village markets. Kalyan Joshi is a Phad artist from Bhilwara in Rajasthan and his Phad painting on large cloth panels carry messages in the local language about maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks. Apindra Swain, a Pattachitra painter from Odisha shows mythological figures wearing face masks.
Kavad art is a 400-year-old colourful storytelling form from the northern state of Rajasthan and Dwarika Prasad, from Chittorgarh district has painted a Kavad panel to show scenes in a hospital treating Covid-19 patients.
Traditional art has always been used to depict the happenings in the society and these new paintings, maybe hundreds of years later will be seen by many as the time when a pandemic locked down the world.