The Popular Arts of India

With such a rich heritage dating back centuries, modern Indian culture has evolved significantly. It is home to a remarkable number of extremely amazing artists, authors, and sculptors all combining to create the popular arts of India.

Arts of India Modern Painting

"Movement continues throughout the day and night. Life is movement."

Artwork in India goes back to the olden days, as is obvious from the cavern artwork of Ajanta and Ellora.

Since pre-historic periods, art has always been an invaluable representation of the Indian subcontinent. The most well-known art forms in India mainly involve paintings, music, sculpting and literature works.

The impact of the arts of India on the rest of the world is truly astounding. Many artists have received global recognition with their works fetching huge amounts of money in worldwide sales.

From pieces that revolve around spiritual subjects to subjective ones, Indian artists have covered almost each and every field of expression. DESIblitz delves into some of the most popular arts in India, from painting, sculpture, poetry and music.


Madhubani Painting

Arts of India Madhubani Painting

Madhubani artwork started in a little town, known as Maithili, of the Bihar state in India. The theme of Madhubani paintings revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga and Saraswati.

Mrs Jagdamba Devi, of Jitbarpur town near Madhubani, Mrs Sita Devi, Mrs Mahasundari Devi, Mrs Godavari Dutt, Mrs Bharti Dayal and Bua Devi are some renowned artists who have all received National Awards within this artistic style.

Warli Painting

Arts of India Warli Painting

Warli art is from Maharashtra, typically designed by tribal women. Tribal people in India consist of the Warli, Malkhar Koli, Kathodi, Kokana, and Dhodi communities situated on the north borders of Mumbai, in Western India. This art was first discovered in the beginning of the 1970’s and from then on it was known as ‘Warli art’.

Jivya Soma Mashe (born 1934) is responsible for making the Warli tribal art popular. Notably the earth, surroundings and environment are huge influences for him. His mantra:

“There are people, birds, animals, insect etc. movement continues throughout the day and night. Life is movement.”

Sandhya Arvind is another internationally popular artist who excels in the cultural art of Warli. Her artwork is happily chosen by art lovers, collectors and traders world over. Recognising her accomplishment, the State Lalit Kala Academy (a premier art academy) selected and subsidised her artwork for display in the country.

Modern Painting

Arts of India Modern Painting

Modern art includes works that were created or produced during the period of 1860 to 1970. This art denotes the style and philosophy of painting of that particular era.

Abanindranath Tagore is always remembered as the Father of Modern Art. Tagore desired to modernise Mughal and Rajput designs. He wanted to reverse the impact of western designs of art and instead created a modernised Indian style of artwork, which later became known as the Bengal School of Art.

Amrita Sher-Gil was a revolutionary painter of her time. Born in 1913, she blended beauty with boldness. Though she had a short life and career, she left a deep mark with her creativity on the art scenario of 20th century India.


Arts of India Sculpture

Indian sculpture has taken various forms depending on changing times and social impacts. Ample accessibility to materials like clay, stone, ceramic, metal, and timber has motivated artists to experiment with new and different types of materials to create statues and structures.

Much of this depended on regions. For example, Central India used cast iron; South India used wood; and stone statues were popular in Rajasthan. Some of the best sculptor artists of India include:

Dhruva Mistry was born in 1957 in Gujarat. He paved a way to combine standard art with traditional art from the most basic cultures. Some of his more iconic sculptures include ‘The River’ otherwise known as ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’, situated at Victoria Square in Birmingham, England.

Dhanraj Bhagat was born in Lahore in 1917. His designs were a mix of Indian traditions and western innovative values. His style of experimentation led him to explore geometric designs and patterns in his art. He kept testing with new ideas every now and then but found wood as the best medium for his creativity when making statues.

Sadanand Bakre was amongst the popular sculptors of modern India. He was an alumnus of the J. J. School of Art in Mumbao. He was also one of the founder members of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group. This artist has shown his works in a lot of places in American and European countries. In an essay from 1965, Bakre wrote:

“I am traditionally trained and perfectly capable of accomplishing completely realistic work. But my interest in forms has gone far beyond the dull imitations of subject matter, which to me is almost unimportant.”


Arts of India Poetry

Indian poems and Indian literature in general, have a long history going back to Vedic times. They were written in various Indian ‘languages’ such as Vedic Sanskrit, Classical Sanskrit, Oriya, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Urdu. Poetry in languages such as Persian and English also has a strong influence on Indian poems.

Rabindranath Tagore (born May 7, 1861, Calcutta, India – died Aug 7, 1941, Calcutta) was a poet, short-story author, musician, playwright and painter. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. His ability to create a fluidity of words that included rhythm, melody in his lyricism and an overall positive energy makes him one of the standout poets of modern India.

Tagore also shaped new writing styles through the use of colloquial language within Bengali literature, taking it away from its traditional Sanskrit templates and bringing it into the new era.

Mahadevi Varma is an excellent Hindi poet. She was also a freedom fighter, economist and female activist. Considered the ‘modern Meera’, she is one of modern India’s Romanticism poets of the Chhayavaad period between 1914 and 1938. She was a popular poet in Hindi Kavi sammelans (Gatherings of poets).


Arts of India Music

Indian music consists of classical, pop, folk, traditional and R ‘n’ B. Carnatic and Hindustani songs are categorised as India’s classical forms. They have a history comprising thousands of years and evolved several times over.

One of the most popular and prominent Indian artists of the modern period is of course Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Joshi is a master of ‘Hindustani classical music’, notable for his melodic voice that he has developed over many years of training. Born February 4, 1922 in Karnataka, Joshi belongs to the Kirana flow of Hindustani traditional songs. He is popular for the “Khayal”, a classical type of Indian singing.

One name that truly epitomises the custom of classical Indian song is that of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Often recognised as the ‘Tansen of the Twentieth Century’, this singing genius has combined the best of traditional songs and designed an exclusive design of his own. His songs hold an effervescent melodic quality with a feeling of passion.

Indian being a diverse nation features countless different lifestyles and traditions. As a result, Indian Art forms via different states display their own unique attributes. Their method and appearance might vary according to the traditions and period, but the actual concept of these art forms is carefully associated with the pure Indian roots from which it was created.

Smita is a Healthcare Management professional. She loves to write and is an avid reader. A big foodie at heart, she loves to discover new cuisines. Her life motto is " Like yourself first and everything else drops into the line."

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