Sukhnandi Vyam was born in 1983 in the eastern Madhya Pradesh village of Sonpuri, and now works as a sculptor within the Bhopal-based contemporary Pardhan Gond art movement inaugurated by the pioneering artist Jangarh Singh Shyam (1960–2001). Both Sukhnandi and Jangarh belong to the Pardhan Gond tribal community, which serves as the traditional keepers of their people’s cultural heritage and lineages – remembering family genealogies, and transmitting legends, sacred myths and oral histories through songs and storytelling. Pardhan Gond bards are still patronized by the larger Gond community, yet – with customary tribal patronage dwindling over the past century – their traditional livelihood and performance narratives have been made increasingly obsolete.
Sukhnandi has worked in many media – including clay, canvas, metal and wood – but it is his wood sculptures that have brought him the highest acclaim. In 2002, he won the Madhya Pradesh State Government award for an unusually elaborate wood-carved ritual mangrohi wedding totem, and his wooden sculptures were extensively featured in Udayan Vajpeyi’s authoritative book Jangarh Kalam (produced by Vanya Prakashan of the Madhya Pradesh Tribal Welfare Department).
In 2002, he won the Madhya Pradesh State Government award for an unusually elaborate wood-carved ritual mangrohi wedding totem.