Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, a 52-year-old Gond artist from Bhopal, started his painting journey 36 years ago.

Green Leaf

His work is displayed at famous galleries and historic places around India — the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai, Chitra Kala Parishad in Bengaluru, Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal, the State Museum in Jhansi and more.

Green Leaf

Here’s a look at the artist’s body of work that depicts the Gond art with modern meaning.

Green Leaf

1. Life under the tree The blue patches in the painting depict the sea and clouds, and signify that without nature, life will cease to exist.

2. Hansraj Ghora The painting is based on the story of Hansraj Ghora, a horse that could take flight and make anything possible due to the divine power it was bestowed with.

3. Motherhood The painting depicts the elements of nature — yellow for the soil, blue for the water, orange for fire, and white borders to convey the expanse and infinity of the sky.

4. New era The car signifies the advancement that human civilisation has come up with but conveys that no matter how advanced we get, nature will always be the ultimate.

5. Elephant family In Kerala, the instances of elephants moving out of the forest into urban areas are increasing. Raman adds that the painting is a message for people that plants should be grown for these animals to have their own space.

6. Tiger’s tail “The tail is always dear to the animal, as it performs an integral function of keeping it safe and serves a unique purpose,” he says, adding “The tail of the animal is also its tale.”

7. Crow biology “Crows have a notion that the eye is watching them while they consume the prey,” he says. “By eating the eye first, it ensures it can enjoy the meal in peace.”

8. Mother Earth “Humanity is suffocating Mother Nature, while she is the same one that nourishes us. But despite the mistakes we make, she never gives up on us. This is just like a mother who never gives up on her children, no matter how often they go wrong.”

9. COVID pandemic The painting portrays the evils of the COVID pandemic and how it forced us into confined spaces. “The birds in the cage represent us. While we do have the ability to go anywhere, we are locked up in cages as moving around would be harmful.”

10. Story of the tiger When the tiger kills its prey, the fox has a chance to eat the leftovers near its cave. However, the fox gets annoyed with the tiger and plans to kill it by taking it to a nearby river and showing the tiger its reflection. Thinking there is a new tiger [in the water] that is a threat to it, the tiger jumps into the water and drowns. But the irony is that the fox has lost the source of its food too.