Hill Korwa "Magical Scripts" Drawing Center New York 2001

Lahangi Korwa 1998 ink on paper 56x71 cm

The history of his designs is unique. In order to study the various tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh, among the most numerous and varied of India _ the State of Madhya Pradesh is the size of France _ , Swaminathan sends emissaries, ethnologists, painters and poets for the first time in 1983 (there will be several expeditions). At their arrival at Hill Korva, after several hours of roads and paths, they begin to take notes and make sketches. To their utter surprise, the villagers seize their papers, their pens, pencils and markers and spontaneously begin to draw.
Where members of other tribes trace of mostly figurative forms, half human, half animal, the Korwa lay down on paper calligraphic rhythms, an unknown alphabet, sometimes highlighted with lines or accompanied with bows and arrows. The Korwa speak a dialect that excludes writing. It would seem that the meeting while traveling in nearby towns, with the written word was the most dazzling.

Korwa 1998 ink on paper 56x71 cm

Did they confer to writing a magical role, did it bring to the people mastering it an unknown power? Did they perceive writing as an artistic manifestation suited to express sensibility and transmit traditions? Did they simply want to participate in this strange ritual which these visitors seemed to invite them into?
The interpretations of these apparent writings are numerous. "When they write, I think they take their pencil for a bow. They do not write, in fact: they shoot. They fire signs like arrows", reports Archana in the book by Frank André Jamme, published in 1996 by the “Galerie du Jour”. "Or else it would be a kind of trance. Instead of shouting, singing, gesticulating and dancing, like any good shaman, our Korwa would simply write", says Franck André Jamme in one of his approaches to the Korwa mystery.
We remain impressed with the ease of the Korwa, men and women. The elegance of gesture, the science of fullness and emptiness in their compositions, evoke those of seasoned artists. One thinks of Michaux, Cy Twombly …