Old Masters Academy

The Traditions of Indian Painting




The traditions of Indian painting go back many centuries and can be seen in the cave murals of Ajanta, the Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts, and the Kangra schools of miniature Indian painting. Indian painting was a common practice within many households who would paint their walls and doors with exquisite natural scenes. Indian paintings are rich in color. They are bold and vibrant, yet refined and sophisticated. There is an aesthetic pleasure that can be found in modern day art and the art of civilizations of the past. From the beginning of time Indian Art has been steeped in the religions of the Indian culture. Over the years various traditions have merged to form a compelling modern art form that still is rich in cultural and religious traditions of the Indian people.

Miniature paintings have a long history in India. At first glance these small paintings would seem to be nothing more than a clutter of masculine and feminine figures. Yet there is so much more to these miniatures. They are actually an expression of the basic movements of Indian dance. They are emotional creations that depict the musical modes of classical music in India, and they date back to medieval times Color is an important element to Indian art and various techniques are used to produce the most intricate designs that are so exquisite. The themes of much of their work are based on Kings and other rulers of their country and the Gods and Goddesses of their religion.

Thanka Painting revolve around Buddha and ritual works. In these works the dragons dominate both in flow and form. It dates back to the 10th century and became a popular form when Buddhism began to spread beyond Tibet. Glass painting dates back to the 16th century were they were first used to adorn places of worship. Using semi precious stones, gold leaf, and gilt metals they were able to produce some of the most magnificent glass paintings known to man. Kalamkari is another popular Indian technique which uses burnt tamarind twigs dipped in molasses and iron fillings to create the outline. Then varying shades of vegetable dyes are used to paint the scenes. Many works of Kalamkari are based on mythological themes with figures that are larger than life.

The Phad Painting was a traditional line of painting done by families of Phad painters from the Bhiwara regions. The outlines were done in block and then filled with color. Their works depicted historic tales of Rajput Chieftains. The family of the Jagganath Temple of Puri were known for their Pata Chitra painters who produced beautiful scroll paintings as well as fine works of art on cotton or tussar. Their work uses vibrant colors and is very distinctive. There are only a few Pata Chitra painters left. Ivory painting involved the most delicate of brush strokes to create the human figure on the ivory. Images were generally of a Mughal Emperor and the art form first came to be in the 18th century. The Madhubani paintings are a Bihar specialty. Modern Indian paintings use materials from around the world but they remain entrenched in expressing the Indian culture and experiences. The ability to combine tradition with modern has produced some amazing works of art.

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