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Suddenly Indian artists have made big splash in the global art mart. The number of success stories at auctions and art galleries aboard indicate art appreciation is on the upswing. Individual unique styles have been the USP of many success stories. Even the earlier artists’ works have found patronage the world over. As art creates a niche, a world of its own to hold Indian creativity of spiritual art is blending well with modern art.

Early Beginnings
Most art historians agree the earliest seeds of modern art were sowed with the emergence of Raja Ravi Varma’s (1848-1906) mythological oil paintings, the first in the country. He was the first to learn oil painting at the court of Maharaja of Travancore by a visiting European painter. This was in the beginning of the 20th century also called the revivalist art era. The Bengal school of art was speared headed by the affluent family of Tagores. They revived the ancient art of India. They concentrated on the mythological figures of Godhead, recreating the cave paintings of Ajanta, and the art of Mughal India. Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher Gill and Jamini Roy gave a new meaning to a nascent modern art. Rabidranath Tagore is most famous for his painting mother India (a hindu goddess with four arms with the map of India around her. At the age of 69 years he started to paint. He is considered best known poet and painter of India. Amrita Sher Gill could have remained abroad with her Hungarian father and Sikh mother. However, she wanted to feel the life in India and stayed on. Her paintings are worth in cores today.

A Step Forward
It was after independence that new artists emerged with distinct identity forging modern ideas. A Progressive Artists Group was formed by some enthusiastic men. Those in this group included K H Ara, F N De Souza, S K Bhakre, M F Hussain, H A Gade and S H Raza. Barefooted M F Hussain continues to create waves in India and abroad. Likewise, De Souza went on to London surprising critics of the society there. Raza was charmed by the romance of Paris and made a name there. However, Hussain continues to seek new avenues to progress in India itself and is prolific in his work of art. His grandiose plans of a museum in Hyderabad too are taking good shape. Although the Progressive Artists Group split and naturally faded away, the artists of the group were busy creating their individual styles. During the pre-independence period, Satish Gujral created historical themes as he was affected by the partition. He still sways in New Delhi and his paintings adorn the best of corporate and individual walls. In addition, with the new sounds that he hears (sometime ago he got back his sense of hearing) he is still honing his talents.

It was the Progressive Group, which helped newer talent to emerge out of the cocoon. The current crop of Indian artists in some way owns their expression of varied talent to many of the earlier artists who paved the way for them. Many known Indian artists today are able to have individual styles and are finding it easier to gain acceptance in society. A budding artist today can have a career with minimalist struggle if he gets tutelage under a known name. Some of the names dominating the Indian Art scene today also owe awareness to the rise of art galleries, which are promoting them. Various festivals in metros give a chance for artists of all genres, to display their talent. In addition, with the global interest of auction houses visiting Indian art events, the future is promising. Some of the names that dot the Indian art scenario today include M F Hussain, Anjali Ela Menon, Jitesh and Reena Kallet, Tayeb Mehta, Satish Gujral, Akbar Padmsee, Gaitonde and the list goes on. Each artist has evolved in an individualistic style and over the years has emerged as an icon in the art world.

Carrying the Brush Forward
Today’s artists have the help of art galleries, work studio of well-known artists and various courses for Fine Arts. With so much of opportunity, available talent is nurtured in many parts of the country. When artists of different schools of thought have been brought together, exchange of new ideas have helped to improve their own work. On line galleries, workshops in studios and amid nature, seminars and other art events are educating young artists to evolve on their own. Students go abroad on exchange programs and return enriched with fresh ideas.

Artists like Jogen Chowdhary, Anjali Ela Menon, successful couple Jitesh and Reena Kallat, Brinda Miller, Atul Dodiya, Shibu Natesan and Kahini Atre Merchant are being patronized by corporate and art galleries in a big way. There is total freedom of creativity and choice of themes for artist of every kind. Today’s artists need to have the right marketing strategies and media exposure to be well known. Being seen in the right circles, exhibiting in the right galleries, festivals are important too. Success follows almost instantly. In addition, to survive the artists to today have less to worry as long as they continue to have the special X factor to succeed.  - By N A Nagpal

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