Indian Traditions of Visual Arts (Drik Kala): Painting - Modern Indian Paintings




Modern Indian Paintings:

  • Around 1857, Indian art entered its modern era.
  • The British considered fine art to be exclusively European. They believed that Indians lacked the training and the sensibility needed to create and admire fine art.
  • An accurate portrayal of the painting's subject distinguishes the European style.

Evolution of Modern Indian Painting:

  • Indian painting, as an extension of Indian miniature painting, began to decline toward the end of the nineteenth century. Only a few minor forms of artistic expression - the "Bazar" and "Company" styles of painting, as well as some folk arts throughout the nation - were still in existence during this time.
  • By the mid and late nineteenth century, art schools were established in major cities like
    Lahore, Calcutta (now, Kolkata), Bombay (now, Mumbai), and Madras (now, Chennai), to propagate Western values in art education and the colonial agenda.
  • After 1857, John Griffiths and John Lockwood Kipling travelled to India; John Griffith served as the head of the Sir J. J. School of Art and was regarded as one of the best Victorian painters to visit the country, while Kipling later served as the head of the J. J. School of Art as well as the Mayo School of Arts, which was founded in Lahore in 1878.
  • Traditional Indian crafts as well as academic and naturalist artwork that suited Victorian sensibilities were frequently promoted by these art schools. Even the Indian crafts that were supported were those that catered to European tastes and market demands.
  • Nationalist art developed in opposition to this colonial prejudice, with the Bengal School of Art, as fostered by Abanindranath Tagore and E. B. Havell, serving as a shining example. Rabindranath Tagore, a poet, created the Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, which included the first nationalist art school in India, Kala Bhavana.

Examples of Modern Indian Painting:

  1. When Savai Madhavrao Peshwe was in power, James Wales, a Scottish artist, founded an art school in Shaniwar Wada, a neighborhood in Pune. He had painted portraits of Nana Phadnavis and Savai Madhavrao.  

    Savai Madhavrao and Nana Phadnavis

  2. The Marathi artist Gagaram Tambat, who collaborated with Wales, receives a special note in this context. The rock-cut caves at Karle and Verul have been captured in paintings by him. His sketches are archived in Yale University's Yale Centre of British Art.  

    Gangaram Tambat with his Guru
  3. Replicas of Ajanta paintings were created by Pestonji Bomanji.
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