jivya soma mashe
Jivya Soma Mashe at home photo Antonio Martinelli 2010
Jivya Soma Mashe (1934-2018) was born in the Warli tribe, only 124 miles north of Mumbai. His story is an unusual one. Abandoned by his family when he was very young, he shut himself up in complete silence and his only method of expressing himself was through drawing.
The art he produces on a daily basis, which until then was created only to celebrate Warli rites and using materials that would quickly disintegrate, attracted the attention of the government’s first emissaries responsible for the conservation and promotion
of Warli art.
His talent quickly drew attention in India and he received the country’s highest artistic awards directly from India’s most important politicians, such as Indira Gandhi. His work was included in the exhibition Magiciens de la terre in Paris in 1989.
From this period of withdrawal, Jivya Soma Mashe seems to have retained an exceptional capacity for imagination and, above all, outstanding awareness.
When we look carefully at Jivya Soma Mashe’s paintings, we are particularly struck by the movement, the quality of the details, lightness, and simultaneously the precision of the stroke. There is no hesitation in his works. As seen in every detail, he goes directly to the essence in both the design and composition with the natural simplicity of the ingenue. The teeming profusion of strokes, lines, and dots on the canvas vibrate with energy, constructing skilled compositions that themselves reinforce the dynamism of the whole. Both the detail and general composition enhance the impression of movement. The themes that recur in his production—such as the daily activities of his family and the legends of the Warli—are also pretexts for a constant eulogy to movement.
“There are human beings, birds, animals, insects, etc. Day and night, there is movement. Life is movement.” With these words, Jivya Soma Mashe describes a perception deep in the Warli soul.
1985 "Tribal Paintings and Legends" Gallery Chemould Mumbai
1989 "Magiciens de la terre" Centre Pompidou Paris
1998 "Other Masters" Craft Museum New Delhi
2003 "Richard Long - Jivya Soma Mashe" Kunst Palast Museum Düsseldorf
2009 Prince Claus Award, Amsterdam
2010 "Autres maîtres de l'Inde" Musée du quai Branly Paris
2011 "(M)other India" Galerie du Jour / Agnès B. Paris
2012 "Show & Tell" Fondation Cartier Paris
2013 "30 Years" of the Fondation Cartier Paris
2014 "Formas Biograficas" Museo Reina Sofia Madrid
2015 "Chinese Utopia Revisited" Palais des Beaux Arts Bruxelles
2016 "Worlds of Words/Goods of Gods" Triennale di Milano
2018 "India" Manoir de Martigny
2021 "Trees" Fondation Cartier Shanghai