Thursday, 28 March 2019

Modern and ancient Indian Contemporary Art: The Rise and Rise of the Style

What is extraordinary about contemporary art is the energy – it has our energy. New energy. Pieces hundreds of years old are beautiful from an aesthetic point of view, but without our modern energy. -Victor Pinchuk

The rise of Modern Indian Art dates back to the times when India was under the British Raj. A time had come when the craft and techniques were just on the verge of extinction. Traditional paintings by Indian artists were losing their significance and the artisans were struggling to incorporate innovation in their creations.
Pages from History:

It was during this period that noted painters like Raja Ravi Varma of Kerela and Abanindranath Tagore of Bengal had come to the forefront. The former sincerely attempted to earn a name by taking up mythological subjects as his area of interest. The latter, on the other hand, was struggling to establish a style of his own, revealing nationalism in his work. Inspired by his attempts, others soon followed, leading to the establishment of the Bengal School toward the beginning of the 20th century.

Ravi Varma Paiting of Ravana Sita Jathayu | Source: Wikipedia 

To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art – that is, intimacy, spirituality, colour, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts. – Charles Baudelaire.

Inspirations, of course, remained the same; subjects revolved around mythology and the classics. Eminent people like Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore came up to give folk art a modern touch and introduced the concept of expression. A lot was experimented with colours and techniques. Chinese styles were welcomed and the lost craft of miniatures and frescoes was revived. This was the baby step of Indian contemporary art back then, which has only seen a mammoth growth in today’s world. Visit any art gallery in Kolkata, today. You’ll observe how their influences have not only remained strong, but also continued to inspire artists of modern times.

People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. – Bill Watterson

Later Developments of the Craft:

In the later years, artists like Amrita Shergill had successfully managed to merge the Western styles with Indian trends. She was the first lady to set foot in the world of modern Indian art and has set benchmarks for many. A large number of her works have been preserved by the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, and has been acknowledged by the Government as National Art Treasures. Indian contemporary original art of today, owes a lot to this lady.

The expanding canvas:

Modern paintings are like women, you’ll never enjoy them if you try to understand them. ― Freddie Mercury

Cross-over and mixing have become mainstream today. Foreign collaborations are common and the blend, in fact, is interesting, eye-catching. Amalgamation of culture is being encouraged more and more, fresh ideas are popping in, and the style is going global. The concept of surrealism has found its way into the style. Trends no longer bother artists; sharing of cultural differences and similarities does.

I feel like contemporary art is everywhere now and with the rise of the Internet, it’s so much easier to see what artists are doing and to follow their careers. – China Chow

Yes, the Internet is playing a huge role in promoting the popularity of the art form. You can now buy Indian art online. Galleries have hopped on from the physical world to the big web. Pick up any website that lets you buy Indian original art. The array that you perceive shall be wide and vibrant. Browse through sites like You’ll be received with a plethora of paintings and modern art designs that, each better than the other.

The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art. – Jackson Pollock


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