Let your art do the talk

Let your art do the talk

Let your art do the talk

Indian art has come a long way, includng how it is being received. Rahul Narvekar traces its history and gives you tips on selecting the best artwork for your home


What started as a method of communication in the prehistoric times has converted and presented itself to the world as the first trace of painting tradition. In the Indian context, one can’t simply undermine the splendour of cave paintings etched and marvelled at the spectacular Ajanta Caves. Art is a language that has tremendous power to convey emotions with a flick of the wrist, stroke of the brush and splatter of the paint.

Medium, be it pastels or acrylic, water-based or oils, ceases to matter as the prime motive is the urge to communicate. In the age of digital media where backdrops of our smartphones change with the pulse of our mood, let’s take a look at how Indian handicrafts and paintings can liven up the walls of our homes, as we look back at its enchanting history.

Picture on the wall

If you are planning to add a piece of legacy from a bygone era or preparing your walls for an offbeat flavour brewed in the simmering kettle of Indian art, there’s a plethora of options for you to pick from. Here are some that you can consider:

Imbibe the regal essence of Rajput era with the quintessential miniature paintings that embody the intrinsic skill of detailed handwork. Another style of painting hailing from the region of Rajasthan is Phad, which is done in scrolls or swathes of fabric running in metres, narrating Rajasthani folklore.

A rising star is the Madhubani or Mithila art, which is practised in Bihar  and in Mithila region of Nepal. It is executed through the use of natural pigments, twigs, nib pens and chronicle the key occasions in one’s life like birth, marriage and sacred rituals.

West Bengal is famous for its treasured Dhokra art of metal-casted sculptures and it’s an incorporation in the modern-age painting culture. It’s enchanting with its  stick-figure motifs like the dancing girl, amongst fauna such as elephants and horses.  Drape the walls with Kashidakari’s intrinsic needlework. Invest in the strength of threadwork with wall hangings that promise to take you to the beautiful valleys of Kashmir and to places with magnificent and colourful rows of flowers. Finally, add a touch of the splendid valleys with lacquer-doused wooden and tin boxes, known as the art of Naqashi. You can use these to store your trinkets or even quick nutty bites.

Back in time

The history of Indian paintings and handicrafts can be traced back to the Indus Valley civilisation. During the rule of the Mughals, miniature paintings chronicled the rule of every sultanate and emperor. Its influence can even be seen in the Rajputana style of painting, where the narration revolves around the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Krishna’s Raas Leela.

The shift from murals to miniatures progressed towards the canvas-sized, company-commissioned portraits during the British Raj. The colonial era sparked off the beginning of the Bengal or avant-garde school of art in India.

Glorifying the nationalist sentiments brimming from the boiling pot of freedom struggle, these paintings were an expression of India’s strife for independence.

Today, the tradition of art is deep-seeded in the individualistic cultures pertaining to each state. The southern reminisces of painting traditions have evolved from the Mysore and Tanjore school of art. Drawing inspiration from the Hindu mythology, the paintings from down south are popular for their extensive use of gold foil in the their paintings. From Bihar’s vibrant Madhubani language of art to the existing vernacular tales of Warli tribes, art has gained the coveted status of being the official representative of the individual state.

The contemporary scenario reflects the emergence and convergence of traditional mediums with modern-age sensibilities. Artists today are breaking the moulds and barriers that define the requisites for what can be deemed as art. Today, we are breathing in a space that is witnessing the marriage between time periods, aesthetics and messages.

So, dwell in the sea of handcrafted possibilities that thrive in every nook and cranny of our homeland.

(The author is CEO, www.indianroots.com)

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