Gond paintings are a form of painting from folk and tribal art that is practiced by one of the largest tribes in India with whom it shares its name. Gond comes from the Dravidian expression, Kond which means ‘the green mountain’. While Gond paintings are considered to be from predominantly from Madhya Pradesh, it is also quite common in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh and Odisha. Gond art has become so predominant that the Government of India has stepped in to preserve their art form for future generations to enjoy.
Pictorial art on walls and floors has been part of the domestic life of Gonds, specially among Pardhans since it is done with the construction and re- construction of each and every house, with local colors and materials like charcoal, coloured soil, plant sap, leaves, cow dung, lime stone powder, etc. The images are tattoos or minimalist human and animal forms. In course of time, the diminution of agricultural life and social patronage has tended to reduce the Pardhans to a state of manual labor.
In the early 1980’s, the Bharat Bhavan art centre at Bhopal in Central India was started with a vision of establishing a common space for all kinds of contemporary art practices. The modern Indian painter and activist, J. Swaminathan led this mission with a passion for bringing forth the creative expressions of the rural folk and tribal societies in India. J . Swaminathan initiated young artist groups to go into the rural interlard to explore such expressions. While traveling in village Pattangarh, a group of such artists found a brilliant wall painting done by a young manual laborer aged seventeen called Jangarh Singh Syam, who later became a legendary name in the history of Gond painting.