B. 1942, India
Baua Devi is a Mithila painter from the Jitwarpur village of the Madhubani District in Bihar. She uses modern motifs and topical issues to make her handmade paper and canvases brim with urgency and life. Since the colors she uses are still largely made by hand, her paintings feel organic and earthy. There is a strong feminist perspective to Devi’s work, whether she is depicting the raw power of Kali’s roar or articulating the interior life of the Nag Kanya, a creature with the head and torso of a woman and the lower body of a snake. By the time a young Baua found her feet and her oeuvre in Mithila art, the world was ready for her. She won the National Award in 1984 and became the sole Mithila artist—and sole Indian woman—to show at the seminal 1989 show, Magiciens de la Terre (Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1989).
Today, every serious collection of indigenous Indian art carries her work and her paintings have travelled to shows in the United States, Spain, and France. She was also the recipient of the Padma Shri Award in 2017, the fourth-highest civilian honor in India.