Bhuri Bai is an internationally recognized practitioner of the Bhil folk art form, native to Madhya Pradesh in Central India. Inspired by the colours that emerged during days of festivities in her village of Pitol, Bhuri began to paint everything she could lay her eyes on. From myths about triumphant goddesses to scenes from everyday life, Bhuri incorporated her culture and surroundings in her art. She was the first Bhil artist to paint on paper and canvas, after the famous Indian artist Jagdish Swaminathan suggested likewise. This was the turning point for Bhuri, from a local indigenous painter who painted on the mud walls village homes, to a Contemporary folk artist who pushed Bhil art to international heights.
In keeping with traditional Bhil art, Bhuri refers to the rich culture of her village life filled with songs, rituals, tattoos and folklore. Her paintings are lively and colourful illustrations of the animals in the forest, the neighbouring flora and fauna, Bhil deities, festivals, traditional attires, ornaments, dances, and many aspects of the village architectures, like huts and granaries. In recent years, Bhuri Bai began painting elements of urban and industrial life, like aeroplanes, car and buses, as well. Her art, rather than being realistic, contains elongated and surreal forms stippled and filled with dots, elaborate patterns and coiling designs.
Bhuri’s work has been displayed in the galleries and museums of Europe, Australia and United States, and her painting “Story of the Jungle” sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2007. Bhuri was awarded the Shikhar Sanman from the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1986, and the Ahalya Sanman in 1998. Bhuri was invited on a presidential delegation to Australia in the following year, where she participated in a workshop between Australian aboriginals and tribal Indian artists. At present, Bhuri works as an artist in the Adivasi Lok Kala Academy in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.