Friday November 15, 2019

Contemporary Indian paintings: Western style, national sentiments!

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By Adita Mehta

credit: www.chennaigallery.com
credit: www.chennaigallery.com

Painting is a very powerful source of expression. Indian paintings have a very long tradition and history in Indian art. Indian art originated about five thousand years ago, sometime during the peak of the Indus Valley civilization.Though there is no definite proof of its inception, it is believed that the oldest paintings are the wall art of the Bhimbetka caves in Madhya Pradesh. As said by Picasso, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” Indian paintings can be classified as murals and miniatures.

Murals are aesthetic tasks executed on walls. Some such examples include paintings in Ajanta and Kailasanatha. These paintings were discovered in south-west India. Miniature paintings are those which are executed on small scale and on perishable material and not many are found today. Rajasthani and Mughal paintings are the examples of such paintings.

In Indian context, paintings served the purpose of documentation, demonstration and communication.

Indian paintings have become quite popular both at national as well as international levels. Colours play a major role in Indian paintings.  Indian art is known for using bold colours and colour symbolism in their paintings. Like red and saffron for valor, yellow for religion, black for evil and white for purity.

Indian history, which influenced art, is divided into four main periods:

Ancient era: Rock paintings and temple art can be traced back to the artistic expressions of ancient India.

Islamic ascendency: With the establishment of Islamic states, there was a gradual Muslim conquest in India. It led to the emergence of Mughal empire which ruled majority of India from 16th to mid 19th century. During Islamic rule, Mughal style of architecture flourished.

Colonial era  This era marks the time when European powers, through conquest and trade, were at their peak in India. By mid 19th century, British India was born under the governance of the British Empire. During this time, Bengal school of Art was established; also western style was introduced in Indian art.saif

Independence and post colonial era: After rule under the British Raj, India became independent on  August 15, 1947. During this time, ancient India was bifurcated due to partition, resulting in the formation of Pakistan and today’s India.  The post-colonial period saw the rise of many Indian artistes who pushed artistic boundaries, resulting in what we call contemporary art today.

With the changing time, Indian art blended with the West. Contemporary Indian paintings are deeply influenced by western concepts of sublime composition and the mystery hidden behind the painting. The most interesting thing about contemporary Indian painting is that its style is inspired by the western concept but its themes are associated with Indian mythology, Hindu god, emotions etc.

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Astronaut Floats in Space on Mural Sporting a Gandhi Patch on Shoulder

The mural that looks up from the vista that opens to the iconic glass-fronted UN building a block away commemorates the occasions

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Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, movies, screens, TV
As India is all set to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we take a look at actors who essayed the role of Gandhi with elan. Wikimedia Commons

The high-tech future of green jobs and the Gandhian virtue of the dignity of work meld their messages on a six-storey high mural commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the centenary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN that was inaugurated on Tuesday.

The mural that looks up from the vista that opens to the iconic glass-fronted UN building a block away commemorates the occasions.

The other themes on the mural, a joint effort of the ILO and the Indian mission, include the concept of “green”, environmentally sustainable jobs and the greening of the world by planting trees.

India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said at the inauguration that the mural addresses global concerns of decent jobs and the environment.

gandhi
Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN. Pixabay

He said the mural effort goes beyond the diplomatic work at the UN of dealing with resolutions to a new diplomatic area of reaching out to people to create broader awareness of issues.

Victor Ash, the artist who painted it while perched high on a cherry-picker, told IANS: “I mixed different ideas and came up with this ‘green astronaut’ that is also worker – the worker from the future who would be working in space.”

And to commemorate the anniversary of Gandhi’ birth, he said he added Gandhi’s image as a logo on the arm of the astronaut.

Ash said that one of his inspirations was India’s record in 2017 of planting 66 million trees on a single day.

The mission building with a red-stone facade was designed by the internationally acclaimed Indian architect Charles Correa, but one of its sides was bared to the bricks after the neighbouring building was torn down and a hotel was built on the site with a deep setback.

The mural now decorates that side without impinging on the building’s Correa design.

gandhi
The other themes on the mural, a joint effort of the ILO and the Indian mission, include the concept of “green”, environmentally sustainable jobs and the greening of the world by planting trees. Wikimedia

The mural was one of several sponsored across the city by ILO to commemorate its centenary with a project called Street Art for Mankind that aims to spread the message of decent work for all with sustainable development and social justice.

Portugal-born Ash said that he had painted a mural at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai during its Summerfest.

He said that he had started as a street-artist in Paris, where he had studied, and later went into doing paintings for galleries.

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“But it was only the studio work and exhibiting in galleries was not reaching such a broad public,” he said.

“So I went back to the street and did murals because it has a much bigger impact and you can actually transmit messages much better than just exhibiting in galleries for a few specific people.” (IANS)