Hindu epics and Puranas make for sumptuous food for the imagination and are. They are replete with colorful and fascinating gods, goddesses and characters, whose visual representations in Hindu Paintings are equally imaginative. Colorful portraits of Hindu Gods and Goddesses adorn the walls and puja rooms (prayer rooms) of almost every Hindu household in India. In fact it can be safely said that these Hindu Paintings have today become a part of the Indian psyche.
But if we were to stop and wonder how Saraswati (the Hindu Goddess of Learning) got her face and why Shakuntala looks like she does then we will have to direct our question to a single person, Raja Ravi Verma, a man who single handedly revolutionized the way Indians perceived their Gods. Raja Ravi Varma started painting the Hindu deities with proportionate bodies, clearly drawn prominent features and of course with the appropriate ornaments. Before Verma the depiction of Hindu deities can be best called crude. They were merely symbolic representation of the deities and had no aesthetic appeal.
The Raja Ravi Verma Style of Hindu Paintings
Apart from giving the Hindu deities proportionate and aesthetically appealing form, Raja Ravi Verma was also a pioneer in the field of proper visual representation of the Epics and puranas.
A stickler for details, he focused on every little thing, which made his portraits a composite whole. Like the four hands of Lakshmi, holding a conch in one hand, lotus and appropriate instruments in the others.His chosen medium of painting was oil and he brought in the aspect of western realism in most of his paintings. He closely read the epics to capture the essence of each crucial scene, like in the Shakuntala and Damayanti portraits.
His focus on the vahanas or the vehicles of the deities is also noteworthy; Saraswati's swan received as much artistic attention as the Goddess herself. Such attention to little details makes him the institution that he is today. The realism in form and proportion was achieved mainly because he used human models; in fact he was the first Indian to master perspective and the first to use human models to depict Hindu gods and goddesses. The colors used were primarily red, yellow and green but he was well known for blending them together and creating softer hues.
His chosen medium of painting was oil and he brought in the aspect of western realism in most of his paintings. He closely read the epics to capture the essence of each crucial scene, like in the Shakuntala and Damayanti portraits.
The Calendar Art Quality of Hindu Paintings
Today you can see faces of Hindu Gods and Goddesses (as represented by Raja Ravi Verma) staring at you from the oddest of places- t-shirts, accessories, calendars, CD covers and what not. Itís the colorful quality of Hindu Paintings that has popularized it and made it kitsch.
Indeed, Raja Ravi Verma has found admiration from the most unexpected quarters. Hindu Paintings have long transcended their religious value; today they are seen as object d arts.