Indian Paintings: A Road to the Indian Art and Culture

Posted on April 7, 2010 in Culture-Vulture

Meenakshi Gaur:

“Namaskar” meaning the light in me honors the light in you; this is how Indian culture shows the deepest respect in its common greeting or salutation form. The spirit of Indian culture truly resides in its art forms. The art treasures of India are magnificent and the greatest in the world. They range from paintings, sculptures, dance forms and literature. For the Western eyes, Indian art still remains exotic, sensuous and voluptuous.

Indian paintings are pre-historic in nature. They are just not the pictorial depiction of oral traditional of telling stories but a unique art form which blends story into pictorial from. India is the birth place of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Each religion and its philosophy has contributed nuances, vast metaphors and rich associations to the Indian art.

Murals are huge works of painting on the walls of solid structures like the Ajanta Caves and the Kailashnath temple. Ajanta and Ellora caves, of 5th century AD, contain paintings and sculptures .These Buddhist paintings are all over the cave except for the floor.

The miniature paintings are found in the works of Jain manuscripts which are 2-4 inches in size, belonging to the 10 or 12th century. Hinduism allowed humanization of gods and celestial beings through paintings by rendering them the characteristics of common people.

India’s diverse geographical, climatic and cultural conditions are depicted through the various schools of paintings, which have shaped art along the regional lines.

Madhubani paintings are from Bihar. This visual art form exists from the days of the Ramyana. They were first practiced when King Janak assigned some artists to portray the marriage of his daughter, Sita, with Rama.

Mughal paintings were glorified for their miniature form and style. They are blended in Indian, Persian and Islamic style. It flourished in the Indian subcontinent during the sixteenth century under the Mughal Empire. Akbar (1556-1605), was one of the key patrons of Mughal paintings and Fatehpur Sikri is the glorious example of his love for Mughal art. The painters painted on cloth using vivid reds, blues and greens, as well more muted Persian colors of pink and peach.

The royal courts of Rajputana saw them evolve during 18th century. They depicted a variety of themes like Krishna’s life, stories from epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, variety of landscapes as well as people. Colors used were natural extracted from minerals, plants, even conch shells, which was a time consuming process. The brushes used by Rajput artists were very fine and tapered.

Mysore paintings are classical in nature with very subtle colors and intricate details. They majorly portray Hindu Gods and Goddesses depicting important episodes from the epics. The use of real gold leaf and intricate designs lend richness to these paintings, which is unique to this style. The Materials used are Photo mount, Drawing Paper, Arabic gum, Water Colors & Poster Colors, Lead Powder, Gumbos and the Pure Mysore Gold Leaf.

Bengal paintings acted as the renaissance in the Indian art form. They developed in India during the British Raj in the early twentieth century. They were influenced by the modernist ideas of 20th century. The Bengali painters started experimenting with various art forms thus giving traditional paintings a new look.

India still delves on painting as the means of artistic and cultural expression. The contemporary Indian paintings are influenced by the European artistic movements but yet they retain their uniqueness by blending the traditional with the modern school of art.