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Sher Pahad

Jangarh Singh Shyam

Jangarh was born into a Pardhan Gond family in the village of Patangarh, Mandla district, ( Dindori District ),Eastern Madhya Pradesh. He grew up in extreme poverty which forced him to quit school and try his hand at farming. He grazed buffaloes and sold milk in a nearby town.

At the age of sixteen he married Nankusia Bai from Sonpur village; she was to later become a fellow artist. In October 1981, a few years into his marriage, Jangarh was approached by the talent scouts of the arts museum Bharat Bhavan. This was also when he met its first director, the artist Jagdish Swaminathan which led to a lifelong collaboration between the two. Swaminathan convinced Jangarh to come and work as a professional artist in Bhopal.

Swaminathan showcased Jangarh’s first sample paintings at Bharat Bhavan’s inaugural exhibition in February 1982. Soon Jangarh was employed in Bharat Bhavan’s graphic arts department, and he began to live with his family behind Swaminathan’s house in Professor’s Colony, Bhopal.

He achieved fame quickly when, in 1986, merely five years after his ‘discovery’, the twenty-six year old was conferred the Shikhar Samman (the Summit Award)— the highest civilian award bestowed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh. He was subsequently commissioned to do the exterior murals for Vidhan Bhavan—the new legislative building in Bhopal designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa. In 1989, his art was displayed in the Pompidou Centre’s Magiciens de la Terre (Magicians of Earth) exhibition in Paris. He went on to do residential stints at the Mithila Museum in Tokamachi, Japan.