Sunday, April 21, 2013

Encapsulating the rich Indian art tradition

The history of Indian art can be termed as old as the Indian and global civilization. Every major period of history has made way for newer modes of expression and more fascinating forms of art in India. Heritage structures and temples in different parts of the country give an ample hint of the curious mix of mysticism and eroticism seeped into the Indian art tradition. A theory goes that the sculptures on the Khajuraho’s rock temples illustrate the famous Hindu text on love-making, the Kama Sutra.
The artful temples were built over a period of a century and a half, giving an idea of the effort and thought that has gone into making them. India was well connected to the world outside via both sea and land routes. The influence of art & culture of other lands always had been quite pronounced. In an important development, the questioning of the Western thoughts, along with a conscious effort to resuscitate the apparently suppressed cultural identity, started in early 1900. This was in line with the ongoing nationalist movement.

A case in point was the artistic rejection of the Romanticization of Indian reality by the then Company Painters and the mannered portraits of Ravi Varma and his ardent followers. This gave way to the Bengal School of Painting. The themes consciously stuck to the principles of painting discerned in Indian miniature paintings and sculpture traditions. Tempera and ink, the Japanese wash technique and watercolor were preferred over oils, apparently a Western medium.Nandalal Bose, D.P. Roy Choudhury, Abanindranath Tagore, Kshitindranath Mazumdar, A.K. Haldar and Kshitindranath Mazumdar were among the artists who belonged to this school.

Those like Rabindranath and Gagnendranath Tagore preferred more personal idioms through Santiniketan Institute. On the other hand, Benode Behari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij opted to express their love for nature and its rhythms. Inspired by the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi's teachings, Jamini Roy drew his strength from the simplicity of Indian folk art.

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