India and arts share a relationship even before the civilizations were announced. We have always envisaged our deepest thoughts into concrete masterpieces like poetry, sculptures, scriptures and chiefly paintings. From the ancient friezes to the royal portraits of aristocratic class to the modern day contemporary ideas, Indian painting has matured over the time capturing the local as well as the cross-cultural essence of the Indian subcontinent. Paintings from India are recognized worldwide and are loved for their charisma and deep gist.
The evolution of different painting styles in India started ever since the prehistoric times. The roots lie in the carvings and inscriptions used on the cave walls that are psychedelic snapshots of life. Use of pulverized minerals, crushed plants and fruit juices for colors was a common practice. A quintessential work of which are frescoes and wall paintings found in the caves of the Ajanta and the Ellora. Their timeless beauty and exquisiteness naturally pull the admirers from across the world. Such art practices are popular primarily in north-west and western India in the form of paintings on pots, flower vase, wall hangings, wall art, etc. coalescing art and craft.
The trend progressed into the development of figurative art, which focuses on the reality with aesthetic meaning. These were painted in the form of God paintings and imagery from the holy books that speak of sacrifice, valor, motherhood, love, etc. God painting is conceptualized and expressed differently across all the cultures of India. Dramatic human moods and elaborated accessories of figurines are predominant in murals of south India; Patua is an art form of Bengal that paints colorful narrative scrolls describing stories of God; Tanjore Paintings embellished with gold; various illustrative forms of Krishna and his beloved Radha are a specialty of Gujarat; Ganpati paintings from Maharashtra and illustrations of lord Shiva and Parvati from north India are to name a few. All figurative art is dependent on line, color, texture, shape, light and dark symbolism and perspective. Although bold and solid colors like red, yellow, green and saffron are predominant in all God paintings, but the use of color symbolism also provides definition to the philosophical content of the painting, use of white for purity, black for evil, and reds, yellows and saffron for Royalty. Figurative art was not limited to just God painting but also paved ways for a plethora of real world concepts. Mughal art, miniature art, Royal lineage paintings, epic paintings, portraits, moods, etc. are a few examples.
Another very popular form of art is the framed art. Where the painted color communicates the thoughts and brings out the finest details of the painting, the frame encases its sheer beauty and distinguishes it from its surroundings by giving it more definition and weight, possibly the best and the most convenient way of exhibiting the paintings. A frame too is a work of art in itself. Tapered corners, layering, embossed and engraved carvings, motifs, etc are a few frame types. Usually, darker tones and metallic colors are used for styling frames. Oil painting and canvas painting are two most commonly used framed art.
Nowadays, contemporary paintings are attracting eyeballs effortlessly, an idiomatic thought, an abstract style, and a cross-cultural approach together giving birth to an artistic language of expression of Indian vision. With a look of modernity and a deep rooted meaning hidden in the layers of color makes it an immediate like. One of the most original forms of art, contemporary style of painting gives enormous leverage over the societal norms. The use of undertone backgrounds and pastel colors are quiet prominent in abstract art. Not only it provides gravity but also an air of sophistication to the piece of art.
Indian painting has never failed to amaze its audience, even across the borders. Being one-of-its-kind, its popularity is unmatched and unthinkable. An attractive amalgamation of uniqueness and richness.
Indian Painting Styles: A cultural kaleidoscope by P. B. Forum