Modern Indian Painting can trace its roots in pre independence India when western influences started to make an impact on Indian art. A number of Indian Painters drew inspiration from the Western schools and used western principles and technique in their paintings. Raja Ravi Varma is a perfect example of such painters. Some painters like Jamini Roy made a conscious effort to keep his paintings, in both form and technique, as rooted as possible.
Colonial Influence in Modern Indian Painting
As stated above, the colonial hangover in Indian art was an unmistakable one, but yet there was an attempt to internalize the modern techniques and use them to depict Indian themes. Therefore, Modern Indian art can be called a phenomenon because although the artists are steeped in Western modernism, they also recount their cherished stories, or imbibe Hindu philosophy in their work.
The Post Independence era
By the time the Indian tricolor was unruffled for the first time in Delhi in August 1947,several Art Schools with fresh and innovative ideas had been established in India. Urban India boasted of galleries for the display of individual artist’s works. Major artists like Rabindranath Tagore and Amrita Shergill were beginning to gain international reputation.
The Progressive Artist’s Group
Shortly after independence, a group of young enthusiastic painters decided that they needed new ways to express Independent India in the Modern World. the founder members were six very important artists, namely- K. H. Ara, S. K. Bakre, H. A. Gade, M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza and F. N. Souza. This group didn’t have a very long run (it was dissolved in 1956), but it left an idelible impact on Modern Indian Art.
Some important Modern Indian Painters
Many luminaries contributed to the growth of modern Indian Paintings, it will be impossible to enlist all of them. Listed below are a few of them.
Jamini Roy: Jamini Roy’s approachable paintings assured that he found a vast array of admirers. He had both Bengali Middle class and European clientele. His work was exhibited in London, New York and many Indian cities. The unmistakable influence of the Folk Tradition is to be found in his work throughout his career. In fact one can safely say that it was a hallmark of his work. His awe-inspiring body of work has made him one of the most influential Modern Indian Painters.
Nandalal Bose: Nanadalal Bose’s creativity spoke many languages. It was a blend of India’s artistic traditions and several contemporary styles. The Sino Japanese influence (his interaction with Japanese painters in Calcutta proved to be a fruitful experience) gave complexity to his otherwise simplistic soulful expressions. He was also one of the few prominent artists to project theirs works as a backlash against the colonialism. But it will be unfair to term him an “antagonist”, for his works were more of an attempt to nourish India’s future sensibilities with an awareness of her own heritage and that of the world around her.
Amrita Shergill: Amrita Shergill studied Art in Paris and she was an accomplished painter, accomplished in all western painting techniques before she was even twenty-two. She returned to India to understand her own roots and to “pursue her destiny as a painter”. Her themes were very sensitive to the condition of women in India.
His works are vastly celebrated across the world and they fetch millions of dollars in various auction houses. He is well known for his preoccupation with the formalist means of expression.