Handmade Paintings in India – Then and Now
India is the home of the artistically inclined and nobody in the whole wide world can deny it. This country is immensely famous for the finest art works ever produced and handmade paintings are one of them. We know how Indian paintings are perceived. They are not just beautiful and colorful but many times are historic in nature. They portray our culture like no other medium does and this innovative and dynamic mix of characteristics gives this vast ocean of cultures a singular, tangible form. Indian handmade canvas art sings heritage in a way that every ear can hear clearly what the lyrics are. They have slowly become synonymous with historical evidences and have grown much in importance.
Just to point out what the Indian subcontinent holds for the wandering artist from around the world; we have cave paintings of the Ajanta and Ellora caves that represent the ancient Indian culture. We also have the famous styles of Mughal and handmade Rajasthani paintings where the ideology explored is unmatched. These came into being under the supervision of numerous rulers, emperors and kings and the highest of royal patronage.
The number of influences that the country has had over centuries is clearly depicted in the art it produces and the Mughal style of handmade art and paintings tells the same story with a rather pronounced streak. This is the indo-Islamic style we are talking about where paintings get categorized on the basis of their origin, emergence, medium, evolution, and of course style.
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The technique that is applied and the medium that is used to create such exquisite pieces are the two major aspects of the paintings of the Mughal era. What this brought further in the style of depicting is different canvases that took our art to levels that were appreciated by the world. Indian paintings found their place on marbles, in the Batik style, Kalamkari, silk clothing and velvet and even palm leaf etchings. The very popular product that has been making rounds even on the Hollywood red carpet; yes the Saree too sports some really awe inspiring depictions of the most famous and valued paintings done by old age artists. Some popular forms and styles of paintings that are categorized according to their origin:
- Potochitra from Orissa and Bengal
- Madhubani painting style of Bihar
- Pahari painting technique from Himachal Pradesh & Jammu & Kashmir
Tribal paintings are another wide category and these exist throughout the country in various forms. As the name suggests, these are prepared by the tribal people and hold significant cultural relevance depending on the local legends and stories. These skills are passed on from one generation to the next and following is the list of some of the most popular tribal paintings in India:
- Saura painting
- Warli painting
- Pithora painting
- Pichhwai painting
- Santhal painting
Yes, the Indian subcontinent is the home to many artists and so much variety of paintings does not come without great minds at work. Very few painters have been able to earn the name and fame they deserved for their paintings, and that makes them worth mentioning even more. Artists like Rabanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Satyajit Ray, Raja Ravi Verma, Jamini Roy, Jatin Das, and how can we forget the very popular M. F. Hussain? But what we see today though is that earning name and fame for painting is a farfetched reality for most painters.
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The War of Printed and Handmade
Handmade paintings are great examples of craft which is in the present times trying hard to fight for its rightful place. With the advent of printed pictures in the market and the digital technological giants doing all they can to market and promote the same, we are left with little choices. Modern printing technology, (no offense) has had a major negative impact on the creative industry of the nation. The fact that today’s digital technology with its reduced costs and faster production capacity can easily replicate handmade creations has damaged the handmade paintings market of the country. But, there is obviously a huge difference in the quality of the two. Handmade work is miles ahead in this department than their machine made counterparts. However, the increased preferences of people towards it and their uninhibited penetration are reducing the market value of handmade paintings.
Changing Consumer Behavior
However, there has been a major shift in overall consumer behavior and this seems like a positive curve for the Indian handmade paintings across categories. The emerging middle class of the country for instance has recognized the importance of handcrafted luxury items and the introduction of the credit system has further enhanced its scope. Today artistic products are emerging as a status symbol and handmade paintings are one of them. Today, the Indian consumer not only sees these as an investment or a means to more beautiful interiors but also an ideal choice for gifting purposes. Things have started to finally look up for this sector. Let’s hope the ongoing trend paints a better picture for the handmade paintings sector of India.