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The Inner Eye, ever perceiving conscious and unconscious impressions of the world around, beyond language, beyond learning.
The heart’s song, often unsung and unheard, yet still a pervasive beat to which one moves in life.
The mind, always in a dialogue, with the Self and the Other, sometimes deliberate and at other times, involuntary.
The fingers, compelled to move, create, destroy and recreate in an unceasing cycle of being and becoming.
And so it is also, for Ganesh Jogi and Teju Ben, true "Outsider"artists in India, a country spilling over with a plethora of folk art forms and traditions. Unschooled but learned in the intuitive play of form and color, unlettered but creators of a highly sophisticated visual vocabulary, Ganesh and Teju are one-of-a-kind artists, their art inspired by truly personal perceptions, their works colored by individual assimilations of life’s multiple experiences. Totally self-taught with no tradition of art to follow, Ganesh and Teju have created their own pictorial idiom, each unique and beautiful. Accompanied by the sarangi, a string instrument, Ganesh and Teju also sing ballads, folk songs, prayers and invocations. Their foray into art is extraordinary; the story of their lives, a compelling saga of enduring hope and tragic heartbreak, shaped by hardship, poverty and the will to survive and create.
Born into the Jogi caste, Ganesh and Teju, like that of their fathers before, practice a profession that is customary in their village of Rajasthan, in Western India. In the early hours of the morning, they moved through the streets singing devotional songs to wake people up. In exchange they were given grains, clothes and occasionally money. A severe drought and changing times, however, forced the family to move to the neighboring state of Gujarat. Homeless and penniless, Ganesh and Teju reached the capital city, Ahmedabad, and worked as manual laborers for a few rupees a day to quench the fire in their empty bellies, their mellifluous tunes all but forgotten.
A chance encounter in the early 1980s with Haku Shah, the eminent artist, writer, cultural anthropologist and sensitive Gandhian, was soon to be a turning point in their lives. Entranced by Ganesh’s singing, Haku Bhai encouraged him to sing for a living, helping him to get a job performing in the evenings at a well-known restaurant.
One fateful day, Haku Bhai handed Ganesh a pen and some paper. Ganesh hesitated, afraid that he would break the pen for he had never held one before and was unsure of what to do next. Haku Bhai asked him to draw whatever he wished. Ganesh put pen to paper and, as he says, "began drawing from his heart, his memories, his imagination."
From his first diffident drawings, Ganesh soon moved on to depicting life in his village, their move to the city and their lives there. He even drew several images of himself working on his drawing and singing. His illustrations became increasingly detailed, converting all stimulation (including alphabets on shop signs in languages he did not know) into sure, firm strokes and geometric forms. The manifest and the unborn, the palpable and the tentative – all are present in his works.
Teju, whose name means "radiating light," hid behind her voluminous odhni (veil) for the first 30 years of her life, ac