Archive for April, 2013


Unique Characteristics of Indian Art

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Indian art paintings have a glorious history of over 3000 years: The first known artworks created by Indian artists date back to the 3rd millennium BC. Gradually, depending on the existing socio-political circumstances and discoveries of newer metals and elements, Indian art evolved into different art forms and genres. Currently, contemporary & modern Indian art is being practiced and followed by talented Indian artists, which are creating ripples across the spectrum. As more and more Indian artists and India centric artworks are getting attention from mainstream Western media, researchers and analysts are trying to understand the core characteristics of Indian art.

In this post, we shall try to showcase some of the characteristics of traditional Indian art, which inspires modern and contemporary artworks:

a)      Religious Symbolism: Religion and spirituality is something which cannot be analysed separately from Indian artwork. Since pre-historical time to modern contemporary Indian art, religious symbolism has been one of the most important characteristics of Indian art. Heavily influenced by bodily figures of Hindu and Buddhist deities, Indian artists use these symbols to showcase a particular religious/social message. For example, the attributes of Hindu God Brahma is often portrayed as a King with crown and royal jewelleries. Another example being the Buddha. When showcased in artworks, Buddha is portrayed using attributes such as long earlobes, wheels inscribed on his palms and the eyes deep in meditation. These attributes have been followed since thousands of years while creating Indian art.

b)      Architectural Settings: Architectural settings and Indian art are deeply interrelated. In almost every artwork created by Indian artists have some elements of architectural setting embedded within them. Some popular architectural elements which are popularly used by Indian artists in Indian artwork include domes, archways, temples, walls etc. In most of the ancient Indian art, wherein deities and Gods are worshiped, one may easily find some or the other architectural element.

c)       Foreign Influence: As with every civilization, Indian art has been influenced by foreign art styles and concepts. As per the research work done by eminent scholars, it has been argued that the modern Indian art is in fact an amalgamation of original Indian art along with foreign art elements. Notably, the Mughal era was greatly influenced by Parsi and Ismalic art forms. Modern Indian art draws its inspiration from Western art forms and concepts. Due to the unique geographical position of Indian subcontinent, this gradual exchange of ideas and concepts took place smoothly ever since Indian art started its journey. Interesting thing to note is that, besides accepting and using foreign arts, Indian artists also exported their art acumen and influenced the art works of other foreign artists. Especially seen and observed in ancient Chinese artwork, Indian art has much influence over the artworks created in China as well as Sri Lanka and Burma. A casual visit to any prominent and popular Indian art gallery will showcase several instances of foreign art influencing Indian artworks and creations. Art is, after all a sum of efforts done by humanity spread across the globe.

d)      Materials Used for Indian Art: Indian artists and art enthusiasts have never shied away from experimenting different materials for creating Indian artworks. Indian arts and crafts have liberally used different kinds of materials to create exotic and spellbinding artworks; prominent among these are wood, stone, clay, brick and metal. As discussed earlier, with gradual evolution of Indian civilization, Indian art also transformed itself to keep in pace with the changing social and political circumstances. Hence, in prehistoric artworks, we can observe heavy usage of wood and clay for creating beautiful artworks. In middle ages, stone and metal was the primary ingredient. And in modern Indian art, it can be as vague as tiffin boxes (Very Hungry God by Subodh Gupta) which are used to create Indian art.

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Glimpse of Indian Traditional Art Forms

   Posted by: admin    in About Us

A single blog post or a single book or even a huge epic can’t be enough when it comes to describing traditional Indian art. India in itself is an ancient country, having thousands of years of glorious history. And art is something which has been an integral part of Indian culture and tradition. As our civilization evolved and expanded, it continued to embed and adapt different art forms, art culture and traditions of art which provided an independent space for artists to express their own self. Thus, on one hand, we have the magnificent Ajanta and Ellora Cave art and on the other hand the epic Taj Mahal which attracts millions of visitors every year. Buddhist Palm Leaf manuscripts have their own distinct story of tradition and culture and Mughal and Kalighat School of paintings depict their own culturally rich story of creativeness and innovations. In this post, we shall try to showcase some of the most popular and vibrant forms of Indian traditional art.

Kalamkari Paintings: Kalamkari is famous for its exquisite printed and painted art works on fabrics as well as different materials. This type of art has its origin from Andhra Pradesh, and its history dates back to thousands of years. Masulipatnam and Srikalahasti are the places in Andhra Pradesh, which have been considered as the centers of Kalamkari paintings. If we derivate the word, then we will find that it is made up of Kalam or Pen and Kari or work – Pen-Work. A short brush is made from bamboo, and is used by artists to create magnificent artwork which is still popular globally.

Tanjore Paintings: Tanjore Paintings are a fine example of traditional Indian art work. Originally from South Tamil Nadu, Tanjore paintings and artwork had been patronized by erstwhile rulers and princes of India. It’s a rich handicraft in which generous use of gold, silver and precious gemstones is observed in order to create scintillating fabrics, canvas art and decorating walls of temples and religious places. Normally, images of Gods and Goddesses are used to denote spirituality and purism. Tanjore paintings are famous all over the world due to their exquisite design and rich tradition.

Warli Motifs: Considered to be originated in the 10th century BC, Warli art is an ancient and traditional Indian art.  Its origin is Worli, a small suburb in the outskirts of Mumbai, India. Warli motifs are created out of rice paste, and used on the background of dark coloured cloth/fabric and walls of houses and temples. In earlier forms, the background was also created from cow-dung which was easily available at that time. In Warli paintings, you may find an interesting method of storytelling – mythological and mysterious stories which still astound us.

Kalighat Paintings: Kalighat Paintings is a Bengali centric artform, having its origin at Kalighat, a famous religious place in Bengal. It is believed that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a major influencer who developed this traditional art work. When this movement started, artists used to create images of Gods and Goddesses on cloth and then took these canvases with them and travelled from place to place, singing praise of the Lord and spreading goodwill among the villagers. Slowly, the core of this art form has now spread to include social and political issues as well.

Mughal Paintings: Mughal Paintings constitute a whole ear within itself. Started during the reigns of Akbar and Humayun, Mughal art is an amalgamation of Persian art, Islamic Art and European art into one. Some of the famous paintings of India have been created using Mughal style of Indian traditional art. Even this art form extended to creation of walls, domes and other architectural structures. These types of paintings presented a unique style which encapsulated the daily chores of common people, the wars and battles among the royal kingdoms and the gentle expression of love between the couples. Paintings as seen in Taj Mahal, Red Fort and old mosques showcase the unique identity of Mughal paintings.

Madhubani Paintings: Formerly known as Mithila paintings, Madhubani is a very popular and famous style of art which has its origin in Mithila region of Bihar. The most fascinating thing about Madhubani art is the way it is created – using fingers, brushes, match-sticks, nib-pens, twigs and other natural elements. Another striking factor which makes Madhubani paintings unique is the unique geometric patterns which create spellbinding artistic effects on the overall paintings. Madhubani style of Indian art work weaves its enticing and magical effects by creating exclusive art on textiles, fabrics, paper, walls and even public places.

Picchwai Paintings: The legendary Picchwai paintings have its roots in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, where traditionally Indian artists used to weave scintillating art work on fabrics and textiles which were hung behind the statues of Lord Krishna. Picchwai literally means Pich or Back and Wais or Hanging; hence the hanging artwork in the backdrop of statues and portraits of Gods. Picchwai paintings are immensely popular all over India because of its exclusive design forms and innovative presentation elements. Usually depicting Indian mythological characters and images, Picchwai paintings has its fans and followers all over the world.

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