I was in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh last week for the ART SALUTE project. The whole concept of Art Salute is to celebrate the Indian Army in this 75th year of India’s independence. The idea of Art Salute is to salute our protectors via tribal arts and preserve our arts and heritage culture via story art.
The wall art incorporates themes related to the daily lives of Indian Army personnel, their activities during times of peace, flora and fauna, and the most notable sites in the eight states that come under a central command.
There are 9 panels on the wall, and the artists depicted a thread of continuity between the different panels that starts with the sunrise in the mountains and ends with the sunset in the sea. Eight states under the command are represented on the wall via art forms, which are Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha. Each state under the command has their most prominent topographical feature portrayed, and the activities that the command handles are metaphorically shown on the wall in story art form. Each state blended seamlessly into the next, with only visual representations of each state’s geographies used to demonstrate the command’s seamless integration and smooth operations across the states.
Gond and Bhil arts are used to narrate the story.
The first panel represents Himachal Pradesh, where, with the sunrise over the Ganges, the wall art portrays an army man in the initial phase of service—enlistment and training. The snow leopard and the state bird, the Western Tragopan, are also depicted (in Bhil art) to highlight the state.
The second panel represents the state of Uttarakhand, focusing on rescue work by army men during floods. Also shown to highlight the state are the Bramha Kamal (which blooms only once a year) and the Himalayan Monal and Deodhar trees. (Gond art was used)
The third panel represents the state of Uttar Pradesh, focusing on the personal lives of army personnel. The Ashoka Tree and the Kumbh Mela have also helped to portray the state accurately. (Gond Art was used.).
The fourth panel describes the Imambara as the headquarters of the Army Central Command, located here in Uttar Pradesh. Then it represents the peepal leaf of Bihar via Gond art.
The fifth wall focuses only on the activities of Army personnel like paragliding, para jumping, boxing, archery, football, shooting, martial arts, water sports, equestrians, golfing, athletics, etc. (used Gond art).
The sixth wall represents the state of Madhya Pradesh while showcasing the Palash tree, Dudhraj birds, and wildlife animals like tigers. (Gond Art was used.)
The seventh panel represents Jharkhand with its wildlife, including elephants, wild boars, Koyal, and Nilgai. (Gond Art)
The eighth panel represents Chhattisgarh, depicting Chitrakoot Water Falls and its flora and fauna (Bhil Art).
The ninth panel depicts the Sunset in Orissa, complete with the famous Konark wheel and Temple. This frame marks the sunset in the soldier’s life, describing veterans and war widows. (Gond Art).
The complete nine panels not only portray the lifecycle of the Army but also act like an encyclopaedia of eight states while showcasing their state animals, birds, flora, and fauna.
While at the Art Salute event, I had the chance to attend the Bhil workshop. I had the opportunity to try my hand at Bhil art while this workshop was being held for the Army Wives Welfare Association. Bhil art is composed of enormous, unrealistic shapes of commonplace characters filled in with vibrant, yet earthy colours and then covered with an overlay of consistent dots in a variety of patterns and colours that stand out strikingly against the background. The effect is beautiful, as the dots give the painting dimension. By the end of the workshop, I realised the effort and patience that go into creating such artistic forms.
On the 13th of November, at the time of unveiling the wall, Nerolac Paint introduced their new concept, Nerolac Art Tales. So, from now onwards, if you want to convert your wall into a storyteller, Nerolac will help you transform your wall. You can choose any art form like Gond, Bhil, or any other rich local art, and they can customise the wall as per your family’s story.
Art always acts as therapy because it allows people to express feelings using pencil, paint, or canvas. It helps us develop gradually and improve ourselves. Especially with tribal art, where the emphasis on natural elements allows us to tap into the region’s open space, As a result, “Art Salute” in Lucknow turned out to be a great learning opportunity and therapeutic ambience for me while also presenting me with various elements of all eight states that fall under the control of the central command.
Watch the full video of the Event here