Indian art
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Indian art

With a 5000-year-old culture, Indian Art is rich in its tapestry of ancient heritage, medieval times, Mughal rule, British rule, Progressive art and now contemporary art. The earliest recorded art of India originated from a religious Hindu background, which was later replaced by a soaring popular Buddhist art. Moreover, from a timeless era art in India has been inspired by spiritualism and mystical relationship between man and god. Art in India had survived in its homeland and spread from time to time all over the world. This was possible because many kings who recognized budding talent patronized art and themselves were great connoisseurs. Each king has left a deep impression of his affinity to the artist community. Until today, art is patronized by the rich and famous in the country.

Purpose of Art

Indian artists relied heavily on religious scriptures to draw inspiration. Since there was no restriction, they flourished under the patronage of rulers. Their art has survived the ravages of time and have a unique place in historical records. Water colors, charcoal, vegetable dyes were popular methods of painting. Fabric painting was extensive and Indian designers still adapt ancient patterns to modern fabrics. The purpose of art in ancient India was not just to adorn the walls. Each painting had a story to narrate. Visually ancient Indian art was colorful, aesthetic and appealing to naked eye. Mostly kings used to commission the artists to paint from inspiration.

Stone and marble were also used to create art. Indian sculpture until today remains a mute testimony of the talent that emerged under many different kings. One of the many purposes of art was to spread the word around about the king and glorify his deeds. Good art symbolized the prosperity of many an empire in ancient India. Most of the art was produced to promote religious activities. Most Hindu kings were well-wishers of Brahmin community. Art was an extension of their tribute and respect to the knowledgeable class. It is no surprise that most of the artwork of Hindu kings depict scenes from epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat and other mythological stories which continue to inspire artists even now.

History of Indian Art

2nd century BC produced the magnificent cave paintings and they still are a big attraction. The famous Ajanta and Ellora caves in the Deccan jungles of Maharastra can be considered the ancient art galleries that have remained unscathed by attackers. Most of the artwork reflects on the growth of Buddhism during the period which also spread to South east Asia.

Many foreigners have not understood Indian art because they have no background or knowledge of the religion and symbols. Therefore, they tend to confuse the meaning and misinterpret it. Properly understood Indian Art represents a mystical outlook of the people and a spiritual connection. Now with awareness and different artists using interpretation techniques even ancient art is being appreciated.

Mughal Art Influence

When the Mughals made India their home, they bought the Persian influence in their artwork. Miniatures of the Mughal period speak of a different art form altogether. Widely accepted by the people, art from this period represent the importance of the king. Muslim kingdoms flourished until the British entered India.

Marble was used extensively to produce sculpture and the Taj Mahal is a living example of the glorious era. Now understood to be one of the wonders of the ancient world, along with the Egyptian pyramids it is the only surviving ancient monument in the world. Religion gave way to other themes like people and animals. Artists during this period mixed different elements and used influence of each other in their works.

Rajputana Art

Mostly men were painting during this period (roughly around the 16th Century). The artists worked on the belief that nature is sacred and they painted trees, animals and people all in harmony to one another. Lord Krishna is depicted in many Rajputana paintings. The Vaishnava group in their art stressed the relationship of humans with the Almighty. The miniature paintings from the Rajputanas flourished as along as the kings were in court. Once the British came to India, the art scene also changed. Most of the artists gave up, as the British could not understand native art. The ones who did understand a little bit got some artists to paint scenes to take back home to England. This would give their people an idea of the country they were living in. Miniatures today are an inspiration to Indian fashion designers, jewelry designers and artists as hey are reviving some art forms, in the hope that they do not die and are consigned to pages of history.

Like Rajasthani art Madhubani paitings originate from Bihar and still artists form there produce fine art. From other states Tanjore paintings down south and Bengal Art are distinct I styles but each have affinity to religious themes.

Modern Indian Art

In the beginning of the 20th century, some educated Indians began painting new themes, which were directly inspired by the ancient culture of India. With the arrival of the foreigners in the motherland most artists were pinning to get back to the core of native themes. Some bold new revivalists that changed the face of the art world. IN the forefront was Rabindranath Tagore from West Bengal. He lit the torch that was kept aflame by his nephews. While the country’s politics was stormy, no artist worth his salt drew inspiration from its turmoil. During this time the biggest name that emerged was that of Raja Ravi Varma from the kingdom of Tranvancore. His talents took him to Europe where he learnt to paint in oils. To this day, paintings of God and Goddesses under his signature are fascinating art lovers.

A group of progressive artist decided to express their talents during the turbulent days. Landscapes, nature, portraits were some of the themes that artists chose during this time. Current poster boy of the art world M F Hussain is one of the progressive artists who is rocking at the age of 88 years. These artists gave a completely new meaning to Indian art in the following years. As artists started to express themselves, art galleries were needed to display their works. Art galleries appeared in Delhi and Mumbai only in the post sixties. The face of Indian Art was changing with times.

Indian Art Today

Once the government recognized the need to give the new breed of artists a solid platform the colors on the canvas have inspired and encouraged talent from all over the country. Today many artists are producing great works of art and exhibiting them abroad. Most Indian paintings are finding buyers in other countries. The uniqueness of Indian Art still lies in its rich cultural heritage. The art mart in India has gone global and like other sectors it is an economically a viable proposition for business. Somewhere in the world right now, an Indian painting will be bought or sold at an auction and at an unheard price. The paintbrush is becoming as powerful as the pen to express for many Indians.

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