Lado Bai (b. 1954)
An artist best known for her paintings of the rituals of the Bhil community and the animal life, Lado Bai was born in the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh. While she grew up observing rituals involving painting within her community, it was only much later that she would return to it as a practitioner. Lado Bai worked as a labourer at the construction site of Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal, where its director Jagdish Swaminathan took note of the paintings she had done over the floor and mud-walls of her temporary house built near the site. Consequently, Swaminathan encouraged her art practice and to turn to it professionally.
Through Swaminathan, she was introduced to the mediums of canvas and paper, which freed her from the limits of temporary mural painting. Informed by the traditions of Pithora paintings, many of her paintings depict Pithora Dev, the deity worshipped by the Bhil community. Her work draws from stories and legends of the community, and focuses on fleshing out animistic depictions of wilderness, animals and vegetation. Her forms are elongated, brightly coloured and are an imaginative conduit for the stories they derive their shape from. Lado Bai departed from conventions of traditional paintings in some of her works. While she used the signature dotted pattern to fill her drawings, she would modify the dots in a wave-like pattern which would lend a quality of movement to her depictions of animals and human figures. In some cases, the human figure would get foregrounded in relation to the animals, which was unlike most Bhil paintings. Lado Bai also collaboratively worked with Bhuri Bai on a few paintings which were photographed by the artist Jyoti Bhatt in 1983 and later published in Jagdish Swaminathan's book The Perceiving Fingers (1987).
Several of Lado Bai’s paintings were transferred from rough mud walls of her home to paper and canvas in the 1970s for the Roopanker Museum at Bharat Bhavan. Her work has been exhibited widely, throughout India as well as internationally in France and the United Kingdom. She was awarded the Lok Rang Fellowship Award in 1996 by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
At the time of writing, she lives in Bhopal where she works for the Adivasi Lok Kala Academy.
“An exhibition that explores folklore and mythology through tribal art.” Hindustan Times, August 25, 2017. https://www.hindustantimes.com/art-and-culture/an-exhibition-that-explores-folklore-and-mythology-through-tribal-art/story-LT5Z1HnGROkR0u5a5YftrN.html
“Bhil Art: Tribal Paintings from India.” Saffronart blog, December 14, 2021. https://blog.saffronart.com/2012/12/14/bhil-art-tribal-paintings-from-india/
“Call of the Wild.” Sarmaya, April 28, 2019. https://sarmaya.in/spotlight/call-of-the-wild/
“Ladobai.” Indian Arts Collective. Accessed, October 21, 2021. https://www.indianartscollective.com/ladobai/
“Profile.” Saffronart. Accessed, October 21, 2021. https://www.saffronart.com/artists/lado-bai
“Untitled, undated.” Sarmaya. Accessed, October 21, 2021. https://sarmaya.in/objects/indigenous-tribal-art/untitled-12/