The world of art is so colourful, expressive, and widespread that if you dare to explore each diversity, it would take you decades to get the entirety as a whole.
Different nations have been holding an impeccable inheritance of art and culture within themselves. With time, some of these forms got lost in the sands of time, while others still pride over the art legacy they carry with themselves.
India, Asia’s pride, has a record of holding a wide assortment of artworks in accordance with different timelines, cultures, and ethnicity.
Whether it is about the modern and contemporary paintings of S.H.Raza or the traditional paintings that belong to historic and pre-historic epoch, Indian artwork holds a rich archive of art.
Different timelines for Indian paintings
Indian art has been prevalent when even no electricity, no machinery, no communication network, nothing existed. The tantalizing journey of Indian art has crossed various time-frames and varied regimes throughout the stretch of thousands of years.
The pre-historic art
Archaeologists have found various murals, artefacts, sculptures and frescos dated back to pre-historic times.
However, if you really want to witness the charm of Indian art, you need to visit and see the cave art at Bhimbetka caves. These pre-historic caves are located in the Madhya Pradesh state of India and are known to shelter hundreds of cave art.
Some of these artworks are found to be made 10000 years ago. So, as an art lover, ensure to check out these ancient and exquisite cave artworks.
These wall arts are made using natural colours and their themes revolve around the representation of mundane activities of ancient men and women. Some of the work also depict animals and their hunt.
Moving on, we have examples of ecstatic paintings, frescos, wall art, and artefacts made from 1 AD period to 500 AD.
The caves of Ajanta and Ellora sprinkles out the captivating and splendid work of art done by artists of those periods. Both of these caves have approximately 100s of paintings and art pieces.
The most enticing art piece of Ajanta and Ellora is the spectacular and blissful fresco of Buddha, Krishna, and Shiva. There are hundreds of frescos that clearly tell us how affluent and affable Indian art has been even 2000 years ago.
Since these art pieces weren’t made simultaneously, the entire collection seems to be crafted in a long time span.
The dating of these art pieces is estimated to lie from 5 A.D. to 500 A.D.
The medieval period
This was the period of Cholas, Chalukya, Maurya, Gupta, and eventually the Mughal dynasty. The Bhakti movement, the emergence and spread of Buddhism, invasions from barbaric races, and the rise of Islam were all incorporated in this time period.
For instance, the time when Delhi Sultanate was prominent, mural paintings were dominant. The subject matter of these artworks swirled around the representation of flowers, leaves, and plants.
When Alauddin Khalji ruled India during 1296-1316 AD, murals, miniature paintings, and cloth paintings became famous.
From the 14th-15th century AD, art movements in Gujarat and Rajasthan gave way to spread artworks to Central, Eastern, and Northern India owing to the patronage of Jain merchants.
Between 1562 and 1577, approximately 1400 cloth paintings were crafted under the regime of Akbar.
With the upsurge of Bhakti movement in the 15th and 16th century, various Indian artworks whose themes revolved around the representation of Vaishnava devotional cults emerged.
The British Era
With the arrival to India in the early 17th century, the British radically oppressed the native Indian art during their rule.
The British wanted to spread their ideologies, their culture, and their art into India at a swift pace, which they did by opening a number of art colleges in the major cities of the nation. The inception of the Bombay Art Society in the year 1888 was a similar endeavour from the British.
As a result, so-called ‘Company Style’ of paintings became ubiquitous and Indian artists started creating artworks for the British audience.
However, towards the end of 19th century, Abanindranath Tagore, the founder of Indian Society of Oriental Art and the man who kept the foundation brick for Bengal School of Art, started a movement against the company style of art.
The notion was to infuse the art that stimulates nationalism in the heart and mind of Indian people. Albeit being the nephew of illustrated poet Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath was able to mark an impressionable mark in the voyage of Indian art.
However, there was one Indian artist who not only mastered the company style art and won accolades on foreign lands but was also daring enough to depict the life and culture of Indian people using the western techniques. This was Raja Ravi Varma.
Abanindranath opposed Varma’s style and adaptation.
With India’s independence, the bubble of Indian art blew up. For centuries, the British rule oppressed and disregarded the Indian art but now, the nation was free.
This lead to the emergence of several movements that swirled around diverse ideas. For instance, till 1947, Indian artworks and traditional paintings had a central theme of patriotism and nationalism.
But post-independence, artists were ready to experiment with new techniques and shape up Indian art in its own unique style. The renowned Bombay’s Progressive Artist Group was incepted by some of the prominent names of modern Indian art.
S.H. Raza, V.S.Gaitonde, F.N.Souza, M.F.Husain, Tyeb Mehta, etc, were some of the founding members of this prestigious group. All of these artists won western accolades. And since the beginning of the 21st century, we have also witnessed all of these artists’ works being sold at millions of dollars.
With well-known art gallery such as Christie’s now placing its permanent foot in India, the future of Indian art surely seems charismatic and promising. Thanks!